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Anchor of "History of Indiana*^ "History of the Cabinet; of the United State* 
from President Washington to President Goolidgc" 

BALTJMQBJI, M. t U. 8. A. 




m twis XJNi'ran STAtas o AMRRXCA 








Banks, Nathaniel P,-_,.. 138 
Barboiir, Philip P. _,. 80 

Bell, John _ ~~ 91 

Blaine, James G.- -....., 173 

Boyd, Linn ^ ^ w ..-, *-* 186 
Cannon, Joseph 0.*-*-.*,. ,-*- 285 
Carlisle, John G._., 215 
Chves, Langdon ^ - .^, 70 
Clark, Champ _ 243 
Clay, Henry ^^-^ , .--, 63 

Cobb, Howell _^ __,__ ISO 

Colfax, Schuyler ^,-^^^. , - 161 
Cox, Samuel S.. -.*,. 199 
Crisp, Charles F ___. 226 
Davis, John W.._ 114 
Dayton, Jonathan ^^. .^ 20 
Dent, George W.*^^-^ . 31 
Gillette, Frederick H. -, ^ 264 
Grow, Galusha A.^^ ,^-*- 15S 

Henderson, David B, 

Hunter, B. Mt. T 

Jones, John Winston, 
Xdfer, Joseph W 

Kerr, Michael CL. 

Longworth, Nicholas 
Macon, Nathaniel 
Muhlenberg, F. A.*G. 
Orr, James L... 
Pennington, "William 

Polk, James IL 

Randall, Samuel J,* 
Reed, Thomas B** 
Sodgwick, Theodore 
Stevenson, Andrew 

Taylor, John W,, . 

Trunibull, Jonathan *, 
Varnum, Joseph B^ 
Whlte t John ^^ 
Winthrop, Robert C 





._ 194 


. , 86 


^ 149 

._ 97 

.* 204 


^ 31 

__ 84 
w *,^. 76 


^^ 47 




FRONTISPIECE ; The Opening of the Seventieth Session of Congress* 

BABBOOT, Pinu? P. 
, JOHN G. 






HtTNTEB, R. M. T. 







Date of 

Date of 

In days 

President pro tempore 

of the Senate* 

Speaker of the Houie 
of Repreaentativea 

1st. *,,-. 













aJVfar. 4, 1780 

Jan, 4, 1700 
Deo, 6, 1700 

Got, 24, 1701 

Nov. 5, 1702 
Deo, 2, 1793 

Nov. 3, 1794 
X>eo. 7, 1705 

Beo, 5, 1700 
May 16, 1707 
NOT, 18, 1707 

Deo. 3, 1798 
Deo. 2, 1709 
Nov. 17, 1800 

Deo, 7, 1801 
Deo. 6, 1$Q$ 
Oct. 17, 1808 

Nov. , 1804 
0c. 2, 1805 

0o. 1, 1800 
Oct. W, 1807 
Nov. 7, 1808 

My 32, 1808 
Nov. 37, 1800 

Deo. 8i8io 

Sept, 29, 17S0 

Aug. 12, 1790 
Mar, 8, 1701 

May B, 1702 

Mar. 2, 1793 
June 0, 1704 

Mar. 8, 1796 
Jane 1, 1790 

Mar, 8, 1707 
July 10, 1707 
July 10, 1708 

Mar, 8,1790 

May 14, 1800 
Mar. 3, 1801 

May 3, 1802 
Mar. 8, 1S03 
Mar. 27, 1804 

Mar. 3, 1805 
Apr* 21, 1806 

Mar. 8, t#07 

Apr, 5, 1808 
Mar. 3, 1800 

Jam 28, 1SOO 

May 1, 1810 
Mar, 8, 1811 












John, L&nRdon** of 

Now Hampshire. 

Fredcsriok A. Muhlen.- 
berg, of Pennsyl- 

Jonathan Trumboll, of 

Frederiok A. Muhlen- 
barg. of I*nn8yl- 

Jcmathan 3Dnytoia, of 

New Jersey. 

Georgu Dent* of Mary- 
Tlioodoro Sedgwlck, of 

jMl tHS8fllOhUl8<Stt0. 

ISfathaDJal 3VCaooUt of 
North Carolina. 


Joseph B. VariattHi, of 


Hiohord Henry Lee, of 
John JLangdon, of New 

Ralph Bsard, of South 

Henry t Tazewell, of 


3d - 

4th. MM . .. 

0th. ...... 

Samuel Livermore* of 
New Hampshire* 
William Bi&fthaxn, of 

Willlam^Sford, of 
Rhode Maud, 
Jaoob Read, of South 

Theodore Sedgwlok, 
of MlBMiohuaetta. 
John Laurence, of 
N<w York. 
J "mam Bosi, of Penn- 
Samuel Livwmoro, of 
New Hampshire. 
"Uriah Tracy, of Con- 
John K. Howard* of 

Abraham Btnldwla, of 
Stephen II. Bradley, 
of Vermont. 
John, Brown, of Ken* 
Jene Fraiikliii, of 
North Carolina. 
Joseph Afwlerson, of 

Somwdl Baiih, of 
H M .do.* ,*, 
M . M do.... M . -.*..* 
St^ohen 1C, Bradley, 
of Vertttoxit. 
John Milledge, of 
Andrew Gregf* of 
John GftiEwd, of 
South Caroliftft. 
John JPope, of Ken- 

Oth.. Ml ... 


* tJnttt within reot y^ars the appolntmoot w tlwfeion of a Prtdeat pr tipore was hdld by the Senate 
to h for the ooooilon, only, <> iliat, more thuxi onn ajppean it) ndveral nor-nionn nti<l m omwa nono were oboaeu. 
ftivuM M w ia 1800, they have irv<td until "the 8iMt otiharwlse ordrd. H 

s Gomtitutlon (Art, I, MM. 4) wovided that tint Cowpesa fthould aMmbl0 Mr. 4, 1780, and thereafter 

' yew? * * * out the nrtt Monday In waowaber* unl<MHH they shall by lnw appoint a different day. 

._, -^d ittchxdlttf May 20 18SO, 18 ooti were jpited provldiftg for th meedwg of Corei on other dayi, 
in the ynir. Since thot year CongreKi htt met reitimriy on the first Monday in Deoemher, The first and 
mwond tuwaionH of the Flrat Congrwi were held In N<w York; iiibie^uratly, t/l the neeond mention of the 
Sixth ConjprtJii, Philadelphia was the meeting r>1w-o; tinoe then ConfreM has oonvenied in Washington. 

fileoted to oojunt the vote for Bftsident and Yiee-l*reiident. whfoh was don Apr, 6, 1780, a quorum of 
the Senate then appearinir for the first time. John Aduwm. Vioe-Freident, ainx-nrod Apr. 21. 1789, and took 
hi Mat M Breiidmt of the r ' 




Bate of 


Date of 


Prcxi<tant i>ro toxnpore 
of tho Souutft 

SpAakctr c*f tho IIotMo 



Nov. 4, 1811 

July 6, 1812 


William H, Crawford, 

Hoary CUity, of Ken- 


Nov 2 1812 

Mar 3 1813 


of Georgia. 




May 24* 18 1& 

Auflf 2, 1813 



13th - _ 


Doo. 6,' 1813 
Sept. 19, 1814 

Apr. 18, 1814 
Mar. 3, 1815 


Joseph B. VoriuiMi, of 
John Gaftlurd, of 



Deo, 4, 1815 

Apr. 20, 1810 


South CuroUno** .... .-- 

SoujJj ClnroUitMU 
Hoary (Uny of Ktmr 


Doc. 2, 1810 
Deo 1 1817 

Mar. 3, 1817 
Apr 20, 1818 


141,... .... 




Nov. 10', IS 18 
Dec, 0, 1819 

Mwr. 3,1810 
May 15, 1820 



John GuiUord, of 



Nov 18 1820 

Mot 3, 1821 


South Carolina. 

... <io ..*......... 

John W. Taylor. 1 of 



Doc 3 1821 

May 8, 1822 


Ntw York. 
l>h!Up 1*. I^nrbowr, of 


D>O 2 1822 

Mar & 1823 





Doc" 1 1823 

May 27, 1824 


Honry Clay, of Ki* 


Deo 6 1824 

Mar % 1P25 


19th-- - 


Deo! 6,' 1825 

May" 22, 1826 


Nnlliuntal Maootx, of 

John W. Taylor, of 


Deo 4 1820 

Mor 3, 1827 


North OaroUau. 

..**., do... .*. -.....,., 

Now York, 

20th - -. 


Doo] 8, 1827 

Mar. 20, 1828 


Bamuol Smith,, of 

Andrew HUwonimu, of 


Do 1 W28 

Mar 3, 1829 


Virgin in. 



Doo 7 1829 

May 31, 1H30 


.... do. ...... ,, ..., ,,, 




Doo. 0, 1030 
Doo* 5 1$31 

Mar. 3,1831 
July 10, 1832 


wttll, of VirgJtuia. 




Doo. 3', 1832 
Doo. 2, 1838 

Mar, 2,1833 
Ju&b 30, 1834 



lluffh Lftwuon Whit.o 
Oc^orao Poindttxlcr, of 


24th. - 


Doo. 1, 1$34 
Deo, 7, 1835 

Mar. 3,1830 
July 4, 1830 



John Tylw, of Vtr- 
Willinm It King, of 

Jchn U^U,' of Tonnwn* 
Jwmw K. I^lk.nfTtm* 


Doo. 5, lft&& 

Mar. 3 1837 




2$th.. H ... 


Sept. 4, 1837 
Doo, 4, 1837 

Cot 1(1, 1887 
July 0, 1838 




Mar, 8, 1839 




Doo 2 1880 

July 31 1840 


.do... ..,..-*. 

liohwt, M. T, Huittftr 


Doc. 7, 1840 

Mar, 3 1 1841 


of Virgin b- 



May 31, 184-1 

Sept. 13 , 1341 


SnKirttmil lii 8otithrd 

John Whltft, of Ko 


Deo, 1841 
Doo. 5, 1842 

Aug. 31, 1842 
Mar. 3,1843 



of Now Jwsy. 
WiHfa I>. MovtKum, of 
North Carolinn* 




Deo 4> 1843 

Juno 17 1844 



John W. Jott t of Vlr- 


Deo. %, 1844 

Mnr. 3, 1845 

..*.. do., -...,, . .., . 



I>oo. 1, 1846 

Aug. 10, 1840 


Pavid 11, AtohinotDi of 

John W 0ftYli|i of In,* 


Doe. 7, 1846 

Mar. 8, 1847 


80th _ 


Doo. 6, 1847 

Aug. 14, 1S48 



liobitiff 1 C* Wljithrop 


Dec. 4, 184$ 

Mar. 3, 1840 



8 1st 


Deo, 8, 3841) 

Sopt* 30 1850 


Wllilnm It KittKi of 

!fowt*ll C^obb of (}<H*IP 

Deo. 2, 1H50 

Mor. 3, 1851 


NM M ...". H ., .... 

&* * ' 



JDoo, 1 1851 

Aug. 3Jt 1852 

Jfjilnn Hoyttf of ICon* 1 



Deo. 0, 1852 
Deo. S, 1853 

Mar. 3, 1853 

Aug. 7, 1854 



David H. Atohiioxn, of 


Deo. 4, 1804 

Mar, 3,1855 


Joo IX Bright, ofln- 

JUwSTfiW of Mtehl- 

1 Klootod Speaker, vJoo Honry Cly who roiiffnod Jan. 10, 1814, 

* Blwtedt Spoak0if Nov. J$ 18210, rioo Hwwry Ulay, who rwteued Cot 38, 

1 Hooted ypcakor June 2, 1834, vice Aiulrow .Stovcmon, of Virginia, resi K icd. 





Date of 

Date cf 

in days 

President pro tempera 
of the Senate 

Spoaltor of the House 
cf Roprose.} datives 

34th. ... 


Doo 3, 1865 

Aug. 18, 1860 


Jesso I). Bright, of In- 

Nathanidl P. Banks, 


Aug. 21, 1856 

Awg, 30, 1856 



-do --. 

of MaHaachuaotta. 

35th - .. 


Doo. 1, 185(5 

Doo 7, 18G7 

Mar. 3, 1857 
Juno 14, 1858 


Jamos ^M, Mason, of 
Thomas J, Rusk, of 

Hciijttnun, F*il2po,lr&ok, 

Jaraos L. Orr, of South 


Doo. fi, 1858 

Mar 8, 1860 


of Alui>amatt. 


36th . - 


Doo 5, IBM) 

Juno 25, 1800 



Williant P'oiwiInKtoB of 



Doo. 3, 1800 
July 4 1851 

Mar. 3, 1861 
Aug. 6, 1861 


JoMfl D. Bright, of In- 
Solomon Foot, of Ver- 

Now Jeraoy. 

Gnlusha Ai. C*row r of 


Doo, 2, 1801 

July 17, 1802 



Doc, 1, 1802 

Mar. 3, 1808 


38th ..... 


Doo, 7, 1803 

July 4, 1804 


Sohuyler Col fax, of 


Doo 5 18(14 

Mar. ?J, 1805 


Dauiol Gltkrk^ of New 

> . I. Cl<) . l M A H W * 

80th .. . 


Doo 4, 1806 

July 28, 1806 




Doo. 3, 1800 
*Mittr, 4, 1867 

Mar. 2, 1807 
Doo. tt, 1807 


Bonjtuuib F. Wade, of 
... H do. HM .. MHM ... M . 


l)oo, 2, 1807 

JNov, 10, 1808 

345 ........ 


Doo 7 1808 

Mar. 8, 1809 


.. ..<io. ... M ... .. 

Thoodotf) M. Pomo" 

4lHt. ..... 


Mar 4 1801) 

Apr. 22, 1800 


Tlonry B, Atxthotny, oC 

toy,* of Now "York. 

JnttUM (.J*. Itlaino, of 


Boo, 0, 1800 

July lf, "1870 



Doo, h, 1870 

Mar. 8, 1871 


42cl ...... 


Mar. 4> 1871 

May 27, 1,871 


Ilonry B, Anthony, of 



Dew. 4* 1K71 

Jimo 10, 1872 


Muxlo ItilancI* 


Doo. 2, 1872 

MM. 8, 1878 




Doo, 1, 1878 

Jfuno 28, 1874 


Matdhow M Ottri)dn 



Dew. 7, 1874 

Mar, ft, 1875 


tor, of 'WiiwwwiHm. 

44th .. .. 


Doo, 0, 1875 

Aug. 15, 1870 


llonry B, Autlutny, of 
Thoffian \V Iftwiry, of 

Mictmol , Kwr,< of 

Doo. 4, 3870 

Mar, 3, 1877 




M Iltott &yior,* of Ohio, 
yrc ioiuporo. 

Samtiftl J. HmdaU of 

45tk ......... 


OoL IB, 1877 

Doo. 8. 1877 




Doo. a, 1877 
Doo* 2, 1878 

June 20, 187H 
Mar. 8, 1870 


Tlkoman W, X%rry, of 

. H M u <IO MM a mm ..,... M 

4dth.... M . 


Mar* 18, 1879 

July 1, 1870 


Allon G* Thttrmao, of 


Deo, 1, 1871) 

June 10, 1880 


... H do. MM ... ........ 


Doo. 0, 1880 

Mar. ft, 1881 




Doo. 6> 1881 

Aug. 8, 1882 


Thomas F. Buyiird, of 
David Davia, of III!- 

JT. Wftrren Kdfw, of 



Deo. 4,1882 
Deo. 3, 1888 

Mar. 3,1888 
July 7, 1884 


G<0or0o IP, I^dffliuiQidft, 
of Vermont, 
. . . .diOn. ...M.. .>..... 

Joh G. Carlisle^ ol 



Deo. 1, 1884 

Dee* 7, 1885 

Mar. 8, 1885 
Aug. 5, 13*88 


..,. UO. MM - M .*.. . .. 

John Bhotcxuitucit of 



* Tt*e wture raoeiMt to this gtssiott from Saturday, Mr* 30 r to Wedawday, Jwly 
July 30. 'to Thurtday r WOY. 21. 

* TJiero wp0 rdoaii In thte iamtlon from Monday. Jly 27, to Moudny, Sept. 21, 

to Tiwday, Nov. U), No buHiiKWH WUH lrannn<il<yi HuhHcquout to July 27* 

* Elated Shaker Mar* 3, 1869, and mirvod oivo <Iuy. 
Dtod Aug. 10, 1870. 

s Api)ointd SjxMxkcr pro tempora Fob. 17, May 12, June 10, 
Api)oitod SpouKcr pro tenapore Juuo i. 

1, awl from Saturday, 

to Friday, Cot 6, wad 




Date of 

Date of 
a d^ournmont 

in days 

President pro ttimp<vt> 
of the Donate 

Spf&kor of the ITou^o 
of XloprencntAtivwi 

49th...... .. 


Dec. 6 1880 

Mar. 3, 1887 


John J. Imtalb, of 


Dec 5 1887 

Oat 20 18S8 


JCsawnB. ......... 



Doo" 3 ? 1888 

Mar 2 1889 

91 ......... 

51st . 


Dec." 2* 1889 

Got 1, 1890 


John J. Ingalk, of 

Tbomnn B, BH! of 


Deo. 1, 1800 

Mar. 3,1891 
Awg 5 1892 


Gharltti F. Matwlw- 

ffoik* of JNebrakti. 

.do .....-.-.-.-. 

Ghnrliw F, Crwp of 


Doc. 5,1802 

Aug. 7, 1803 

Mar. 3,1893 
Nov. 8 1893 


Isham G. narria* oC 
. .....-.*... 




I>ee, 4, 1803 
Boo, 3,1804 

Do. 3, 1895 

Aug. 28, 1804 
Mar. 2, 1895 

June 11, 1890 



. ......... 
Matt W. Rannom, of 
North Carol in A. 
XahAm G. tlftrrif of 
William I*, Fry f of 

TJiOtttttw B IXwwli of 

!D<j0 7 1898 

Mar 8. 1897 






Mar 15 1897 

July 24 1897 




Do* 0* 1807 

Jttly 8, 1898 



Doc' 5* 1808 

Mar 3. 1899 

89 .......... 


Deo* 4 1890 

Jane 7 1000 


Dttvlrt B, lifundtiWOttt 


Dao 3 1000 

Mar 2 1001 


of I own. 


Do, 2, 1901 

July 1, 1902 

212 ............. 




Dec. 1, 1002 
Nov 9, 1003 

Mar. 3,1003 
DIMS. 7, 1008 


JoAAph . CunuMi, of 



Boo, 7, 1903 
Dec. 5, 1904 
Deo. 4, 1906 

Apr. 28, 1904 
Mar. B, 1905 
Juno 30, 1900 


209 ....* 




Dffio 3 1900 

Mr 2. 1907 


00th . 


B0o. 3 1007 

May 30, 1908 


... w . do.. ........ 



Deo 7 1908 

Mar $* 1909 


01st. ... 


Mar, 15 1909 

Awg. 6, 1909 



DDO 6* 1900 

June 25, 1910 




Do. 5, 1010 

Apr* i 1911 

Mar. 3,1911 
Aug. 22, 1911 



Chump Gbvk of Ml** 



Deo, 4, 1911 

Deo. 3,1912 
Apr. 7, 1913 

Awg. 26, 1912 

Mar. 3, 1913 
Dx. 1 1013 



' A Ca?lk* ffflSgS> 
Baoon/ OnHinfti* 11 *.*.* 
Jttmfts F* Ckrke ft of 





Deo, 1 1013 

Deo 7, 1014 

Oofc, 24, 1914 
Mar, 3, 1915 


ArkaitMMi. ......-.,. 



Deo. 0, 1915 

Bftpt, 8, 1910 


...... do. ..*.-....... 




Dec. 4,1916 
Apr, 5L 1917 

Mai 4 , 8 1917 
Oct 6 1917 



Wlllarci Bautebtury, of 



Deo 3 1917 

NOY* 21* 1918 





Deo. 3,1018 
May 19, 1919 

Mar, 3.1919 
Nov. 19, 1910 

185*. ............ 
Albert B. GumiMittUt 

I^rwlwlfwii *I CfIIl(@ r ltft> (M 


Deo. 1, 1910 
D0o, 6, 1920 

Jwiws 5, 1920 
Mar. 4, 1921 


01 It>wn. 
... ..*... 
. ...... .... 

M Uf'lfUM'l'MiWI'tll.- 

07th - 


Apr* 11* 1021 

Nov. 23, 1021 






Boo, 5,1921 
Nov. 20, 1922 
DoOt 4 1922 

Sept. 22, 1922 
Deo, 4, 192a 
Mar. 8. 1023 




HAD. 3, 1928 

Jno 7, 1024 

188 ............ 


Mar* 8 V 103S 




X)0o* 7 1025 

Cleoruft II M<>iiw 

NI(-!H>IJI:I J,oHKWort,ll, 


Df*. G, 102)0 
Deo. 6 1037 

Mar. 8, 19SJ7 


.....00.............. ........... 


* Rwkoad at I*raildt5at pro tempo** Apr. 27 1011. . 

Elected to sw Ja. 11*17, Mw. H-13, Apr, 8, May 10 My 80 to Jtwo 1 and 8, JUXM 13 to Jul^ I 

110 tnd Auttf. 27 to Xtao. Id, 1012, 

Btooted to MTV May 25, 1012. 

Etootad to aerv Deo. 4-12, 101 1. 

KItoted to aerro Fb. 12-14, Apr, 26-87, May 7, July 0-31, Am* 12-29, 1019, 

e KlMted to iarv Mar. 25-26. 191 2. 

KleotAd ta nom* Aog* 27 to Pte. 10 1012, Jf ^-18 nn4 Feb. 2-15, 10 IS. 

! SW^ 1 * wve J>c 10, 10 Id, fc^ Jan, 4, 1013, JHU 10 to Fb. l k kcl Fob. 16 to Mr. 3, 

W*,I1 A**. Oil 1021. 

from Juno SO. 1023, until Ann* ir '- 

vwctl AUK. ~H. 1021, until Sapt 21. 
HouH<5 of Ilopnywrittttivw fMMMd 


WHY this book? someone will probably ask. The late Champ 
Clark, one of the great Speakers of the House of Representa- 
tlves, and a really great man, gave to the world a charming 
story of his "Quarter of a Century of American Politics." In it I find 
this little account of one of his experiences; "Before I came to Con- 
gress one of my predecessors appointed a board, of which I was a mem- 
ber, to examine candidates for the West Point cadetship. It f eB to my 
lot to prepare the questions in history. One question which I pro- 
pounded was : 'Name the Presidents, the States they were from, their 
politics and length of service/ Some of the boys would have graded 
twenty-five on a scale of one hundred on that, Then I asked them to 
do the same for the Vice-Presidents, which I thought as easy as the 
first, and the answer of no boy would have been marked ten." Yet 
some of those Vice-Presidents were really marked figures in the his- 
tory of the country. A little farther along in his volume I found this 

"Propound to any company of Americans the query; 'Who and what 
was Nathaniel Macon?' and discover the evanescence of fame. He was 
a soldier of the Revolution and a member of the North Carolina Legis- 
lature while still a beardless youth. His serviceg in the two branches 
of Congress was the longest of the statesmen of the first half -century 
of our government under the Constitution, He was the most eminent 
of the Speakers of the House, until Henry Clay appeared upon the 
scene. He was accounted one of the ablest statesmen of that age, and 
could have remained in the Senate all his life had he so desired/' 

Bead over the list of Speakers of the American House of Repre- 
sentatives* There you will find the names of great statesmen, ranking 
among the wisest of their day; orators, leaders of political thought; 
giving shape and direction to legislation. They stood high not only in 
the estimation of their immediate fellow-citizens, but with the whole 
country. They earned, by their wisdom and by their devotion to the' 
interests of the whole people, a proud place in the pages of American 
history, But what boy about to graduate from aay high school in the 
land can name them, or tell what they did? Yes, let us widen this out, 
How many of the thousands of teachers in the high schools can tell 
their pupils anything about these great men? 

Yet it is the story of the lives of such men as Nathaniel Macon, 
Langdoxx Cheves, Henry Clay, Philip E Barbour, Robert C. Wmthrop, 
Schuyler Colfax, James G. Blaine, John G, Carlisle, Thomas B. Reed, 


Joseph G. Cannon and Champ Clark which makes up the history of 
the country. 

Does not what Is said above furnish admirable reasons why some 
book giving in brief the story of each Speaker should be written? The 
lives of these men, what they accomplished, is an inspiration for every 

American boy. Poverty and privation was the lot of nearly every one 
of these men in the days of their boyhood. They aspired to climb; 
they did climb. So can every American boy climb if he but wills. 

This book IB an attempt to tell in brief the life story of those men 

who rose to the distinction of leading one or the other of the great 
political parties, for they were leaders, else they would not have been 
chosen to the high place they occupied, and who as such leaders did so 
much in shaping the legislation of the nation. 



WHEN our fathers assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 to formu- 
late a plan for "a more perfect Union/' they took a^ a model 
for the legislative branch of the new government tie system 
prevailing in England that is, a division of the legislative powers 
between two Houses. In America the House of Representatives was 
to be in some degree what the House of Commons is in Great Britain, 
There were, however, some very marked differences between the 
two. The House of Commons was the model only in form, not in powers 
or prerogatives. At that time the House of Commons was composed 
of representatives of classes or interests* In America population was 
to be the basis of representation- Since our House of Representatives 
was formed, there have been a number of modifications in the composi- 
tion of the House of Commons, but as yet population in the true sense 
is not the basis of representation. In 1787, when our Constitution was 
formulated, the British House of Commons consisted of about five hun- 
dred and sixty members. Of these more than three hundred and fifty 
were returned by less than fifteen thousand electors. This was only 
nominally so, for they were, in fact, elected on the recommendation of 
the government or on the endorsement of about two hundred private 

Our House of Representatives was to be, in fact, as well as in name, 
the true representative of the people. To make it uniformly so> new 
apportionment is made after each census. There is nothing of the kind 
in Great Britain. Then, our representatives have to be chosen every 
two years. In Great Britain a Parliament lasts for seven years, 

A man once elected to the House of Commons cannot resign. In 
America he not only can, but often does resign his seat in the House. 
There is a way by which a member of the House of Commons may get 
relieved of the burden of his seat, but it cannot be done by resigning. 
If he wants to give up his seat he applies to the government for some 
office under the Crown. If he is successful in his application, it auto- 
matically vacates his seat, as no member of the House can hold any 
other office. , He generally applies for the office of stewardship of the 
Chilton Hundreds, and it Is granted as a matter of course. The office 
is merely nominal, having no fixed term, no duties, no emoluments. It 
is granted "with all the wages, fees and allowances/' and thus, under 
the law, is an "office of profit/' Receiving the appointment, the mem- 
ber vacates his seat in the House of Commons, by a declaration by the 
Speaker. He can then resign his stewardship for the use of some other 


member who desires to retire from the House. Of course, this is only 
an indirect method of resigning from the House, but tradition must 
be observed. 

In another point there is a difference between the British and Amer- 
ican systems. Here, for a man to secure a seat in the House, it IB the 
invariable rule that the candidate must live in the district which ho 
desires to represent. In Great Britain that is not necessary, and It 
frequently occurs that the same man is elected to the House of Com- 
mons by two or more constituencies. When that occurs he must decide 
before the opening of the session which of the constituencies he pre- 
fers to represent. When he makes a selection, a writ is issued for a 
"bye-election" to fill the vacancy or vacancies. 

In the House of Commons forty members constitute a quorum* In 
the House of Representatives a majority is necessary. If the Speaker 
of the House of Commons finds a quorum present at the time for meet- 
Ing, he takes the Chair. If no quorum Is present, he sits in^the clerk's 
chair, or retires from the chamber. At four o'clock he again appears, 
and, standing upon the upper steps of the platform, he counts the 
House, and adjourns it, in the absence of the required number. 

If at any time during a session the absence of a quorum is sug- 
gested, he inverts the two-minute sand glass upon the table, and the 
members are summoned from all parts of the Houses- After the expi- 
ration of two minutes the Speaker counts the members present, and if 
the number is below forty, the House adjourns until the hour of the 
nesct meeting 1 . In our House of Representatives the absence of a 
quorum necessitates a long' roll-call, and a long and tiresome wait. 

The most marked difference between the two systems, however, Is 
in the power of the two Houses. In Great Britain the two Houses art 
not co-ordinate in power. The House of Commons is in reality the 
governing- power, and can, and frequently does, force its will on the 
House of Lords, and even upon the Sovereign- Since Queen Anne's 
time no sovereign of Great Britain has dared to use the veto over the 
will of -the House of Commons- In America the Senate often forces 
its will on the House of Representatives* This has been frequently 
the case in the enactment of revenue measures* 

There is another difference, and one wherein the British system IB 
much better than the American. That Is the settlement of contested 
seats. In our House such contests are too often determined by party 
necessity, rather than by justice. Here the House is the sole judffo of 
the election and return of its members. In Great Britain If a scat in 
the House of Commons is contested, the question is left with the 
courts, and the House is compelled to admit the person whom the court 
decides is entitled to the seat* This removes It entirely from party bias* 

In elections to the House of Commons a man may have more than 
one vote. He has a voting right not only where he resides, but where 


he owns property. The elections are not all held on the same day, and 
thus he has an opportunity of exercising his voting right in more than 
one place. There are also many differences in the ceremonies attend- 
ing- the sessions of the two Houses. The British are much more cere- 
monial and precise, everything being done after a long-established 

Very often the House is a very unruly body. Representative Crisp, 
when he was the leader of the minority, at one time found his own 
party so torn with dissentions and so uncontrollable that he declared 
openly: "Nobody can lead this wrangling, quarrelsome, factionalized 
Democratic minority." A minority, whether it be on the Democratic 
or Republican side of the chamber, feels that it has but one duty to 
perform keep the majority in confusion, and prevent them from ac- 
complishing anything that will redound to the credit of their party. 

It is a place, however, where every member is put, sooner or later, 
to a severe test. The late President Garfield said: 'There is no place 
where a man finds his true level so certainly and so speedily as in the 
House of Representatives/ 1 The House has always been regarded as 
a stepping stone to the Senate, and then, possibly, to something higher. 

Twelve of our Presidents had previously served in the House, and 
one, John Quincy Adams, was sent to the House after having been 
President. Sixteen Vice-Presidents had House service. 

The assembling of the First Congress under the Constitution was a 
most interesting event. By the proclamation which accompanied the 
Constitution the Senate was to consist of twenty-six members if all of 
the thirteen States ratified that instrument, and the House was to have 
fifty-nine members* It was provided that when nine of the States had 
ratified the Constitution, the Continental Congress should by resolution 
fix the day when the new government should begin to operate. The 
first Wednesday in March, 1789, was determined upon* On that day 
only eight Senators and thirteen members of the House were present. 
Rhode Island and North Carolina had not ratified. They did ratify, 
however, and their members took their seats at the second session. 
Two-thirds of each body were required to make a quorum* 

The old Continental Congress had been practically moribund for 
some months. Its days were now numbered. Some days less than hall 
a dozen members would answer to their names when the roll was 
called. After the first of January, 1789, it could never muster * 

At sunset on the evening of March Srd it was fired out of existeno 
by a salute of thirteen guns fired from the fort opposite Bowling Greej 
in New York, At sunrise of Wednesday, the 4th of March, the nex 
Congress and new Union were ushered in by a salute of eleven gun 
from the same fort and by the ringing of all the church bells in th 
city- The eleven guns represented the States which had ratified th 


When the new House met only thirteen members responded. The 
body lacked seventeen members to make the necessary quorum to 
transact business. Adjournments were had from day to day until 
April 1st, when the necessary thirty were in their seats. A few days 
later all were present. The Senate did not succeed in securing a quorum 
until April 6th. The five members North Carolina was entitled to took 
their seats in 1790, The last to appeax was John Sevier, who was 
sworn in June 16th of that year. Benjamin Bourn, the sole Repre- 
sentative of Rhode Island, took his seat December 17th, 1790. 

The House was troubled at the very beginning by contests for acute. 
The four elected from New Jersey and one of South Carolina's delega- 
tion were contested. The sitting members in each case were permitted 
to hold their seats. Much of the work to start the new government 
was performed before the membership was full 

The old City Hall of New York had been transformed for the use of 
the new Congress. The room assigned to the House of Representa- 
tives was sixty-one feet long, fifty-eight feet wide and thirty-six feet 
high. It contained four large open fire-places- It had two galleries for 
visitors. The seats for the Representatives were arranged in circular 
form. It was In that hall and In the presence of the Senators and Rap- 
resentatives from eleven States the votes cast by the electors for 
President and Vice-President were opened and counted. It was on the 
balcony In front of that hall George Washington took the oath, as first 
President of the United States. 

One of the troubles of the new Congress was to determine by what 
title the President should be addressed. Some proposed "His High- 
ness," and others "His Excellency." Finally true republicanism carried 
the day, and his title became simply "Mr. President," Eighty-five 
men, twenty-six Senators and fifty-nine Representatives set in motion 
the wheels of a government which now ranks as the most powerful 
nation on the globe. The present Senate consists of ninety-six mem- 
bers, and the House of four hundred and thirty-five* 


WHILE the principal object of this volume is to present to the 
reader short biographical sketches of the men who from time 
to time have been selected to preside over the deliberations of 
the National House of Representatives, It will not be out of place to 
give, for the information of the general reader, a brief statement of the 
manner of selecting a presiding officer of this great legislative body. 

In providing for the legislative branch of the government sought to 
be established, the f ramers of the Constitution took the British Parlia- 
ment for its model, dividing the legislative power between two Houses. 
Of one, the Senate, the Vice-President was to be the presiding officer. 
Of the other, the House of Representatives, the selection of the one 
who was to preside over its deliberations was left to the choice of the 
members. He was to be titled "The Speaker/' 

This office of Speaker we derive from the British House of Commons, 
but there axe many differences In the methods of choosing, of induc- 
tion Into office, and In the authority and power to be exercised between 
the two. 

Something of the ceremonious manner in which a Speaker for the 
House of Commons Is selected will be of interest to the general reader. 
A delightful account of the method of procedure in London Is given by 
Macdonagh in his "Speaker of the House/' He says: 

On the day appointed the members returned by the constituencies assemble at 
St. Stephens, Palace of Westminster, But though the elected representatives of 

the people are thus gathered together, the House of Commons is not yet consti- 
tuted, The great Chair at th top of the chamber IB unoccupied. The Assembly 
is without a President* The House of Commons is not constitutionally formed until 

the members have sworn allegiance, and they cannot subscribe to the oath, and are 
voiceless, so far as public affairs are concerned, until the Speaker, the "mouth" of 
the House, is elected. 

The Clerk of the House of Commons, sitting in his chair at the table, in wig and 
gown, acts as moderator while the Assembly is passing through thia traditional 
stage of final completion. But the Clerk cannot do this simply by virtue of his' 
office* He is powerless without the Mace, the symbol of the Speaker's authority. 
It seems, indeed, that unless the Mace is present there can be no election of 
Speaker, Accordingly, the Mace has been brought from the Tower of London- 
where it is deposited for safe-keeping during the parliamentary recess and is 
placed not upon the table, where it conspicuously rests when the House is sitting 
and the Speaker in Ma chair, but below the table, out of view. 

It cannot yet be said, however, that the way Is clear for the Commons to carry 
out the election of a Speaker, Both the practice and the theory of the constitution 
require that before the Commons proceed to choose a Speaker they must havt 
received the assent of the Sovereign. It is in the House of Lords this authorise 
tion must be given to them. Black Rod, the messenger of the House of Lords 


therefore soon appears, carrying his ebony rod tipped with gold, and conducts the 
Clerk and Members of the House of Commons to the Bar of the House of Lords. 
The Lord Chancellor and four other peers are seated in their scarlet and ermine 
robes on a form placed between the Throne and the Woolsack. They are the Lord 
Commissioners appointed by the King to conduct, in his absence, these prelimi- 
naries to the State opening of the new Parliament. The Lord Chancellor says: 
". , . . It being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Commons shall be first 
chosen, it is His Majesty's pleasure that you gentlemen of the House of Commons 
repair to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some 
proper person to be your Speaker; and that you present such person whom you 
shall so choose here, tomorrow, at noon, for His Majesty's royal approbation/' 

Then the Clerk and the Commons without a word having been spoken on their 
side return to their chamber, where they immediately proceed to the discharge 
of their first duty, that of electing a Speaker. There is usually no doubt an to the 
Commons' choice. The Speaker of the last Parliament is again available, and in 
accordance with the now well-established custom of re-electing the same $poakor, 
Parliament after Parliament, so long as he is willing and flt to serve, tha late 
Speaker is to be installed in the chair again, 

The Clerk resumes his seat at the table. He it is who has to guide and direct 
the House in the election of a Speaker* But he is not allowed to speak. Every* 
thing that falls on Mm to do must be done in dumb show, . . . Rising from his scat, 
the Clerk points outstretched finger at the member who is to move: "That 
do take the Chair of the House as Speaker*" This motion has to be seconded by 
another member, and he also is indicated in the same manner by the Clerk, * . 

It is traditional for the proposer and seconder to make speeches In the grand 
manner. ... As there is no opposition, the member proposed is called by the 
House to the Chair, without any question being put by the Clerk* 

Though the Commons have chosen one of their number to take the Chair m 
Speaker, the person selected has to submit himself at the Bar of the House of 
Lords for the Sovereign's approbation, before he can enter upon the duties of his 
office. Until the royal ratification has been signified he continues to be styled 
"the Speaker-elect," 

The ancient forms are strictly adhered to. The King gives his consent to the 
faithful Commons to choose their Speaker, and, having mad their selection, the 
Commons, faithful still, submit their nominee for royal approval The second day 
sees the observance of this formality, which completes the full ritual of election 
to the Chair of the House of Commons on the assembling of a new Parliament, 
The Speaker-elect ceremoniously enters the chamber by the main door, under the 
clock, attended by the Sergeantat-arma. It is obvious that his evolution an "Mr. 
Speaker" is not yet completed. He is still, as it were, in the chrysalis state. Ha 
appears only half made up, so far as his distinctive or official costume its concerned. 
He wears the usual court dress- cutaway coat, ruffles, knee-breeches, silk stock- 
ings and silver-buckled shoes but not the full-flowing black robe, and on his head 
there is a small bob-wig, instead of the customary large and ample wte, the wtegt* 
o which fall over his shoulder, in which he is seen when, he presides over the 
House of Commons. 

The royal approbation being ceremoniously given to his election as Speaker, he 
returns with the Commons to their chamber. He goes first to his private room. 
When he reappears he is in full dress. The bob-wig has disappeared, and its place 
taken by th full-flowing one, and over his court dress is thrown the full black 
silk gown- 
Pomp and ceremony accompanies Ms entrance into the Chamber of 
the House of Commons- As he leaves his room he is met by the SOT- 


geant-at-arms, with the Mace carried over his right shoulder. "Hats 
off! Make way for the Speaker!" shouts a policeman, and as he enters 
the Chamber the m,embers rise and stand until he has taken the Chair* 
How different here in America. 

No royal consent to be asked, no royal approbation to be received. 
Each party nominates its candidate, the vote is taken, and the one 
having received a majority of the votes is declared elected. The chosen 
one is conducted to the chair, a little speechmaking is indulged in, and 
the American House of Representatives is ready for business. The 
daily entrance of the Speaker into the Hall of the House is without 
ceremony* There is no calling "Hats off!" At the exact minute for 
the opening of the session he quietly enters by the door nearest the 
Speaker's platform, ascends the two or three steps, and, by a single 
rap of his gavel, announces his presence. 

During our Congressional history there have been four occasions 
when the selection of a Speaker was only accomplished after many 
ballots had been taken. The details of those prolonged struggles will 
be given in treating of the biography of the man finally selected* As 
a rule, one or two ballots have been sufficient to decide the contest. 
Professor Moran, in his "Theory and Practice of the English Govern- 
ment/' draws this marked distinction between the Speaker of the 
House of Commons and of our House of Representatives. 

The Speaker is the official spokesman of the House of Commons, and also its 
proaulinff officer. He is elected by the House and continues in office for the entire 

Parliament* It is customary, too, to re-elect the former Speaker at the opening 
of a new Parliament. * , . The present Speaker, though formerly a Liberal in 
politics, has served through Liberal and Conservative administrations alike. This 
Is due to the fact that the presiding officer of the House of Commons leaves parti- 
sanship behind him whan he assumes the chair* Herein lies a marked difference 
between the English and the American Speaker. The American Speaker has 
always been a political leader and not a mere moderator, as the English Speaker 
han been. The American Speaker is partisan, while the English is impartial The* 
American Speaker eacpects to go out of office, and actually does go out with his 
party, but the EngHsh Speaker may, and usually does, continue in office after the 
defeat of his party and the organisation of the Opposition. Although the English 
Speaker is elected by a party, he knows no party when in the chair. He is strictly 
impartial in public and private intercourse with the members. 


Of the several Speakers, one, James K Polk, later became President 
of the United States, and another, Schuyler Colfaac, became Vice-Pres- 

Five of them~Henry Clay, John Bell, Howell Cobb, James Gillespie 
Elaine and John G. Carlisle held seats in the Cabinet. 

Clay was Secretary of State in the administration of President John 
Qnincy Adams, and Elaine held the same position in the cabinets of 


Presidents Garfield and Benjamin Harrison* Howell Cobb was at the 
head of the Department of the Treasury under President Buchanan, 
and Carlisle in the second administration of President Cleveland, 

John Bell was Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President William 
Henry Harrison. Philip P. Barbour became Associate Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. 

Henry Clay had the unique record of being" elected Speaker of the 
House every time he was a member of that body. He was elected six 

George Dent, of Maryland, was twice elected Speaker, but each time 
for one day only. 

Michael C. Kerr was the only Speaker to die in office. 

Only two of the forty or more who have been elected Speaker of the 
House of Representatives have resigned that office, Henry Clay re- 
signed January 19th, 1814, to accept a place as one of the Commis- 
sioners to treat for peace with Great Britain, On October 28th, 1820, 
ho resigned a second time, owing: to necessity of attending to his own 
private affairs. 

Andrew Stevenson resigned June 1st, 1884, to accept an appoint- 
ment in the foreign service* 

Schuyler Colfax was elected Vice-President while he was Speaker 
of the House, and on March 3rd, 1869, the day before he was to take 
the oath of office as Vice-President, he resigned the Speakership. 
Representative Theodore M. Pomeroy, of New York, was elected 
Speaker, serving one day only. 

During the illness of Speaker Michael (X Kerr, Samuel S. Cox, of 
New York, was appointed Speaker, pro tern., serving on three different 
days* Milton Saylor, of Ohio, likewise served one day. 

Speakers have been elected from the several States as follows : 

Connecticut (1) Trumbull. 

Georgia (2) Cobb and Crisp, 

Illinois (1) Cannon. 

Indiana (8) Davis, Coif ax, and Kerr, 

Iowa (1) Henderson. 

Kentucky (4) Clay, White, Boyd, and Carlisle. 

Maine (2) Blaine and Reed, 

Massachusetts (5) Sed^wick, Varnum, Winthrop, Banks, 

and Gillette. 
Missouri (I) Clark. 

New Jersey (2) Dayton and Pennln&ton, 
New York (2) Taylor and Cox. 
North Carolina (1) Macon. 
Ohio (2) JKeifer and Longworthu 
Pennsylvania (3) Muhlenberg, Grow, and Randall. 
South Carolina (2) Cheves and Orr. 
Tennessee (2) Bell and Polk. 
Virginia (4) Barbour, Stevenson, Hunter, and Jones. 


Clay, six, 

Stevenson, Cannon, and Clark, four each. 

Macon, Colfax, Blaine, Randall, Carlisle, Reed, and Gillette, three 

Muhlenberg, Dayton, Varnum, Taylor, Boyd, Crisp, Henderson, and 
Longworth, two each, 

Cheves, Barbour, Bell, Polk, Hunter, White, Jones, Davis, Winthrop, 
Cobb, Banks, Orr, Pennington, Grow, and Kerr, one each. 



Banks, 39. 
Barbour, 38. 
Bell, 37. 
Blalne, 37, 
Boyd, 51. 
Cannon, 67* 
Carlisle, 48. 
Cheves, 38. 
Clark, 61* 
Clay, 84. 
Cobb, 34. 
Colfax, 40. 
Crisp, 46, 

Davis, 46* 
Dayton, 35. 
Gillette, 68. 
Grow, 88- 
Henderson,, 60- 
Hunter, 30. 
Jones, 52. 
Keifer, 45. 
Kerr, 48. 
Longworth, 56. 
Macon, 44* 
Muhlenberg, 89. 

Orr, SB. 

Pennington, 63* 
Polk, 40- 
Randall, 48. 
Reed, 50* 
Sed^rwiek, 58, 
Stevenson, 48* 
Taylor, 86- 
Trtimbtill, 61. 
Varnwna, 57* 
White, 86. 
Winthrop, 88. 



FREDEEICE: A. C. MUHLENBERG, of Pennsylvania, First and Third Con- 

JONATHAN TBUMBULL, of Connecticut, Second Congress. 
JONATHAN DAYTON, of New Jersey, Fourth and Fifth Congresses. 
GEOKGE DENT, of Maryland, Fifth Congress 1 . 
THEODORE SEDGWICK, of Massachusetts, Sixth Congress* 
NATHANIEL MACON, of North Carolina, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth 


JOSEPH B. VAKNUM, of Massachusetts, Tenth and Eleventh Congresses. 
HENKY CLAY, of Kentucky, Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fif- 
<f* teenth, Sixteenth and Eighteenth Congresses, 
^LANGDON CHEVES, of South Carolina, Thirteenth Congress. 88 
ID JOHN W. TAYLOR, of New York, Sixteenth and Nineteenth Congresses* 8 
P, BAKBOUB, of Virginia, Seventeenth Congress. 

STEVENSON, of Virginia, Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty- 
\J) second and Twenty-third Congresses 
JOHN BELL, of Tennessee, Twenty-third Congress, 4 
JAMES K. POLK, of Tennessee, Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Con- 

E. M. T. HUNTER, of Virginia, Twenty-sixth Congress. 
^JOHN WHITE, of Kentucky, Twenty-seventh Congress. 
*J?JOHN W* JONES, of Virginia, Twenty-eight Congress. 
</XfOHN W. DAVIS, of Indiana, Twenty-ninth Congress, 
ROBBET C. WINTHBOP, of Massachusetts, Thirtieth Congress. 

COBB, of Georgia, Thirty-ftrst Congress* 
BOYP, of Kentucky, Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses- 
NATHANIEL P* BANKS, of Massachusetts, Thirty-fourth Congress, 
L. 03E, of South Carolina, Thirty-fifth Congress. 

PBNNINGTON, of New Jersey, Thirty-sixth Congress* 
GALUSBA A. GEOW, of Pennsylvania, Thirty-seventh Congress, 
SCHUYLEE COLFAX, of Indiana, Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth and For- 
tieth Congresses, 
JAMBS G. ELAINE, of Maine, Forty-first, Forty-second and Forty-third 

MICHAEL C. KBBR, of Indiana, Forty-fourth Congress. 



SAMUEL S. Cox, of New York, Forty-fourth Congress/ 

SAMUEL J, RANDALL, of Pennsylvania, Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth 

J. WARKEN KEIFBR, of Ohio, Forty-seventh Congress. 

JOHN G. CAKUSLE, of Kentucky, Forty-eight, Forty-ninth and Fiftieth 

THOMAS B. REED, of Maine, Fifty-first, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth 

CHAKLES F. CKISP, of Georgia, Fifty-second and Fifty-third Con- 

DAVID B, HENDEKSON, of Iowa, Fifty-sixth and Fifty-seventh Con- 

JOSEPH G. CANNON, of Illinois, Fifty-eighth, Fifty-ninth, Sixtieth and 
Sixty-first Congresses- 

CHAMP CLARK, of Missouri, Sixty-second, Sixty-third, Sixty-fourth 
and Sixty-fifth Congresses* 

FREDERICK EL GILLETTE, of Massachusetts, Sixty-sixth, Sixty-seventh 
- and Sixty-eighth Congresses. 

NICHOLAS LONGWORTH, of Ohio, Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Con- 

1, Elected Speaker pro tempore daring the illness of Speaker Dayton, and 

served two days, 

2. Elected Speaker vice Hetiry Clayy resigned. 

8. Elected Speaker Sixteenth Congress vice Henry Clay, resigned. 
4. Elected Speaker vice Alexander Stevenson, resigned* 

6. Elected Speaker vie Michael C. Kerr, deceased. 

FKKDKttlCK A. 0. 

First and Third Congresses 


Fourth auul Fifth Congresses 

Sixth <J 



L and Third Congresses. Born at The Ttappe, Pennsylvania, Janu- 
ary 2, 1750. Son of the Rev, Henry Melchoir and Anna Maria 
(Weiser) Muhlenberg. Educated at Halle, Germany, Ordained a 
minister in the Lutheran Church, October 25, 1770. Married Miss 
Catharine Schafer, October 15, 1771. Died at Lancaster, Pennsyl- 
vania, June 4, 1801* 

It is to be regretted that there is so little data of public record touch- 
ing the lives and labors for the common good of so many who per- 
formed important services in laying the foundation and erecting the 
superstructure of our government. If they served in Congress, if they 
were not speech-makers, their names are seldom found in the meager 
pages of the earlier Annals of Congress, yet they were there, with 
their votes and their influence, giving shape and direction, and other- 
wise materially aiding in legislation, and in influencing their constitu- 
ents at home, performing, in fact, much more important services for 
the country than many of those who were counted among the talking 

They are mentioned in the encyclopedias, it is true, but it is only a 
mention, The various offices they held may be recorded, but nothing of 
the mm himself, his characteristics, his activities. This is the case 
with the subject of this sketch. He served, and served well, several 
terms in the General Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania, one term 
as a delegate to the Continental Congress, as president of the conven- 
tion called in Pennsylvania to ratify the Constitution, and four terms 
in Congress, in two of which he was Speaker, but there is little on 
permanent record of what he did in the ser^tee of the public. Much of 
the material for this sketch was secured from some of his descendants 
who cherish his name. 

His family was distinguished in Pennsylvania. His father was an 
eminent preacher of the Lutheran church and was called the "Pa- 
triarch of the Lutheran church in America." One brother served 
under Washington in the war for independence, commanding a regi- 
ment. Another brother was long prominent as pastor of leading 
churches, They were all patriotic, loving America* 

The father of the future Speaker came to this country in 1742, set- 
tling at The Trappe. It was a settlement of Germans, most of them 
belonging to the Lutheran church. He came in a missionary spirit, 



and served the church at The Trappe as its pastor for many years. He 

was a man of rare endowments and fine education, and filled the pulpit 
in a number of the most important Lutheran churches in this country. 
Soon after reaching this country he married a young lady of Philadel- 
phia, To them were born three sons and four daughters. His sons 
were all destined to the ministry almost from their birth* Opportuni- 
ties for education in this country in those early years were rare, and 
the father devoted much of his time to the education of his children, 
especially of the three sons. Desiring for them an education superior 
to what he could give them, or they could obtain in America, he sent 
the three sons to Germany. At that time Frederick was but thirteen 
years of age. The three brothers entered upon their studies tit Halle* 
Tk oldest of the three remained at the school only a short time, but 
Frederick and Henry, his younger brothers, gave seven years to their 
school life, pursuing- their studies with much more zeal than is often 
the case with boys. After seven years of study they were both or- 
dained to the ministry and then returned to America, 

Frederick wrote and spoke German with much more facility than he 
did English. Perhaps it was this German training" and his facility in 
writing and speaking that language which later gave him so much 
influence with the German people of Pennsylvania, leading and direct* 
ing their activities in the patriotic cause during the war for independ- 

Soon after his return to America he became assistant pastor in tiio 
church in Berks county served by his brother-in-law. Later ha was 
made pastor of the church in Salem. In 1775 he was offered the pas- 
torate of a prominent church in Maryland, but declined it. The same 
year he became pastor of a church in New York* There he held all the 
services in the German tongue. At the outbreak of the Revolution ho 
ardently espoused the cause of the patriots. So p*eat was his influ- 
ence that he soon won his congregation to cordially agree with him. 
His earnestness and the influence he was exercising among the Ger- 
mans of the city angered the Tory element, and they began a system 
of intimidation and threats. When it became apparent that the British 
would occupy the city, it was felt that he would be in great danger 
because of the enmity of the Torie$* 

His friends urged him to leave the city, and he reluctantly listened 
to them. Two days before the immortal Declaration of Independence 
was voted by Congress he departed from New York. It was indeed 
dark days for him. He was poor, with an increasing family to support. 
His father had grown old, and was not able to assist him financially. 
He went from place to place, serving congregations of Lutherans 
whenever the opportunity presented itself, For this service he re- 
ceived but little remuneration, as the people were all poor. Wherever 
he went he taught patriotism, and as the congregations he served were 


mostly German, his influence among them steadily increased. In 1779 
he resigned his ministerial offices, having determined to enter political 

At that time there were three vacancies in the Pennsylvania delega- 
tion in the Continental Congress. His services among the Germans 
were recognized and he was elected to fill one of the vacancies. He 

gave himself earnestly and energetically to the service, and was placed 
on several important committees. While he was in Congress he was 
elected a member of the State Assembly, but decided to hold his seat in 
Congress until final adjournment was reached. In a letter written to 
his brother in October, 1780, he drew the following dark picture of the 
condition of affairs : "The coffers are empty, the taxes almost unen- 
durable, the people are in a bad humor, the money discredited, the 
army magazines exhausted, and the prospect to replenish them poor; 
the soldiers are badly clad, winter is coming, the enemy by no means 
to be despised, especially since the arrival of Rodney, Taking this and 
other things into account, public service might appear undesirable* 
However, let us once more take cheer and be steadfast, rely on God, 
and our own strength, and endure courageously, then we shall after all 
be sure of reaching our goal." 

On the adjournment of Congress he took his seat in the State As- 
sembly, and was at once elected Speaker. He served in this position 
for three terms. He devoted much of his time to writing for the news- 
papers in defense of the actions of Congress and of the Assembly 
against attacks that were being made upon them. Some of the articles 
were written in English, but the greater portion of them were written 
in German. At this time he hoped to be soon relieved from his political 
duties, but it was not to be. In a letter to his brother he said : "It is 
settled that I go to The Trappe in April, where 1 expect to recuperate 
in the solitude and quiet of rural life. For, believe me, 1 have become 
faint in body and soul. Take my remark as you please, I assure you I 
aim at nothing but the welfare of my country. Popularity 1 do not 
seek. The fool's praise or censure I do .not mind." 

lie had given up his ministry and devoted the years to the service 
of his country, and it was no cause of wonder that he was willing once 
more to enter the ministry, a profession in which, by education and 
talents, he might expect to accomplish much good. 

Kest from public service, however, was not for him. In 1782 he was 
again elected a member of the Assembly, and on its convening- was 
again elected Speaker- Before the close of his term in the Assembly he 
was elected a member of the Board of Censors, a board having final 
oversight of the laws enacted by the Assembly and of the finances of 
the State. On taking his seat he was called to preside over the board. 

About this time he became interested in a merchandising firm in 
Philadelphia, and it was a sort of relaxation for him to give some time 


and attention to the direction of that business, but most ^ of his time 
and energies were still given to the business of the public* He was 
commissioned a justice of the peace for a district covering several 

townships, and served in that capacity for four years. He was later 
appointed Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds. 

During those years the agitation for a "more perfect union" was 
arousing the people to a realisation of the weakness of the Confedera- 
tion. The agitation culminated in the adoption of a constitution to be 
submitted to the people of the several States, Mr, Muhlonberg became 
an earnest advocate of the proposed constitution, and advocated it 
through a number of contributions to the press. As was his custom in 
his writing, some of his articles were written in German and specially 
addressed to that class of the citizenry. 

A convention was called in Pennsylvania to pass upon the question 
of ratifying the constitution and becoming a member of the new union, 
Mr. Muhlenberg was chosen as one of the members of that convention, 
and when it met was called upon to preside over its deliberations* ^ It 
would seem that he must have had some peculiar talents as a presiding 
officer, for on every occasion he was called to that position, In the 
convention he used all Ms power and influence to secure the ratification 
of the constitution. There was much opposition and the question of 
ratification hung in the balance for some time* Its friends, however, 
were successful finally, and Pennsylvania became a part of the new 
nation. Writers of that period gave much of the credit for winning 
Pennsylvania to the new system to Mr, Muhlenberg, 

Under the constitution Pennsylvania was entitled to eight represent- 
atives in the lower House of Congress. Frederick Muhlenberg and his 
brother, Peter, were elected as two of the eight. Congress was to meet 
in New York on the fourth of March, 1789. In 1776 Mr, Muhlenberg 
had been compelled to give up his church and flee from New York, 
because of his pronounced adhesion to the cause of the colonies, and his 
activities in the patriotic cause- Now he was to return to that city for 
the first time after his forced retirement as a member of the First 
Congress. It must have been a proud day for him* Independence had 
been won ; a new and united system of government had been devised, 
and was now to be put in operation, with him as one of the leaders. 

It was not until the first of April that a quorum of the House was 
present, and the first act in the organization was to choose a Speaker, 
This choice fell upon Mr, Muhlenberg* This prompt recognition of his 
abilities and of his services in the cause of the union was very gratify- 
ing to Mm, A great work was before that Congress* A" new govern- 
ment had been bora ; it had a constitution, but had BO laws of general 
application, and such law$ had to be formulated and placed on the 
statute books ; Its first duty, however, was to count the votes for Presi- 
dent and Vice-President, and to arrange for conducting the successful 


parties into their high offices. John Langdon, a Senator from New 
Hampshire, was elected to preside over the joint convention of the two 
Houses to count the votes. By his side sat Frederick Muhlenberg. 
This was done on the sixth of April. 

A President inaugurated, the active work of the Congress began. 
Take a glance at the work before the First Congress. The whole ma- 
chinery of the new government had to be constructed. Executive de- 
partments had to be created and their powers and duties defined. A 
system of communication with other governments had to be devised. A 
system for collecting and disbursing a needed revenue had to be 
evolved, and connected with this was the providing for a uniform and 
stable currency for the necessary transaction of the business of the 
government and the public. A judicial system for the whole country 
was to be created and put in operation. Also a postal system for com- 
municating with the various sections of the country. There was no 
army, no navy, the one needed for the protection of the settlers against 
the Indians, and the other to safeguard commerce on the sea. The 
details of all these had to be worked out. So well was the work per- 
formed that there has been little change in any of the departments 
then organized, except as they have been relieved of some of their 
duties by the creation of new departments. 

It was a great Congress, composed of constructive statesmen. In the 
Senate were such men as John Langdon, Ruf us King, Philip Schuyler, 
Robert Morris, Pierce Butler, James Monroe and Richard Henry Lee. 
In the House were Roger Sherman, Jonathan Trumbull, Charles Car- 
roll, Fisher Ames, Elbridge Gerry, Theodore Sedgwick, Ellas Boudinot 
and James Madison. Great names in the history of the country ; men 
qualified in every way to start the wheels of a new government in 
orderly and successful motion, 

It was a high honor to be selected to preside over such a body of men 
engaged in the great work of nation-building. The country has grown 
since then ; grown vastly in the extent of territory, in population, in 
wealth, in industrial activities, all owing, in a very large measure, to 
the careful and wise manner in which the men of the first Congress 
did the work before them. Mr. Muhlenberg presided over the three 
sessions of that Congress with great dignity, taking but little part in 
the open debates, but wielding a wide influence as to the shaping of the 

His constituents were satisfied with his work and elected him to 
serve them again in the Second Congress. Of that Congress he was 
not chosen Speaker, that honor being bestowed on Jonathan Trumbull, 
of Connecticut. This was not because of any loss of popularity on the 
part of Mr. Muhlenberg, or of any dissatisfaction with his rulings dur- 
ing the First Congress, but at that early date there was a sentiment 
favoring a rotation in the distribution of honors. 


During the two- sessions of the Second Congress, Mr. Muhlenberjr 
took a more prominent part in the debates than he had done when he 

was the presiding officer, but his main activities were devoted to work 
in the committees. The revenue system that had been devised by the 

First Congress was not entirely satisfactory. There was much oppo- 
sition to it in some of the States ; there was friction in the Cabinet, and 
other parts of the new machinery needed attention. In everything that 
came before the House the influence of Mr. Muhlenberg was felt 

By this time the country was dividing into political parties, some 
following- Washington and Hamilton, and others turning toward the 
theories advanced by Mr. Jefferson. When tho Third (Jontfmss mot, 
this division into parties was felt. Mr, Muhlonbors 1 was again a mem- 
ber. His sentiments leaned toward the Jefferson ideas, and he became 
the candidate of that party for the Spenkcrship. The Federalists put 
forward Theodore Sedgwick as their candidate, the election resulting 
in the choice of Mr. Miihlenberg. 

In the sessions of this Congress he frequently availed himself of the 
right, when the House was in Committee of the Whole, to take part in 
the debates, proving a very formidable speaker. Taxation wan one of 
the troubling- things before the Third Congress, as it has been in many 
later Congresses. On every feature of that perplexing question Mr. 
Muhlenberg was heard in debate. As Speaker in the First and Third 
Congresses, he set many precedents by his rulings, precedents which 
are still followed, 

Washington's administration was drawing to a clone when the 
Fourth Congress assembled. Mr, Muhlonberpr was atfain a member* 
One of the important questions before this Congress was the Jay 
Treaty. It was ratified by the Senate after a long and stormy debate, 
but some action on the part of tho House wan nocosmary before it could 
be carried into effect. No treaty the government has ever negotiated 
caused such a storm of opposition as did tho famous treaty negotiated 
by Mr, Jay with, Great Britain, It was denounced everywhere as a 
base and needless surrender of American rights to England For a 
time it seemed to have no friend but President Washington, Jay was 
burned in effigy in a number of cities, and even th rents againt bin life 
were made. 

When it was first presented to tho Senate for ratification, backed by 
all the influence and popularity of President Washington, n bitter de- 
bate followed, n debate which lasted for weeks, the President being* 
fiercely assailed* Finally, however, on the 24th of April, 17JW5, it was 
ratified by a very narrow margin. 

It required the action of tho House in appropriating money for the 
carrying 1 out of some of its provisions. A resolution making the appro- 
priation was offered, and then the storm that had ragod in tlte Senate 
broke out in the House, Tho debate was prolonged, and at all times 


was angry. It continued five days in Committee of the Whole, with 
Mr. Muhlenberg presiding. It finally came to a vote on April 29. The 
vote was a tie, with forty-nine in favor of the resolution and forty-nine 
voting no. The whole matter then rested on Mr. Muhlenberg. He was 
not wholly satisfied with the terms of the treaty, but recognized the 
rightfulness of carrying it into effect, as it had been duly ratified by 
the Senate. It was, by the Constitution, the law of the land, and should 
be carried out. After but little deliberation he cast his vote in favor 
of the resolution. Thus, by the submission of his own opinions to what 
he believed to be right under existing conditions, Congress and the 
administration were saved from a very embarrassing position. The 
resolution having been adopted in the Committee, that adoption had 
to be affirmed by the House, which was done by a vote of fifty-one 
against forty-eight. 

Patriotism and wise statesmanship led Mr. Muhlenberg to face what 
he knew would be a storm of opposition, for it was wise statesmanship 
to stand at that time between the administration and the wrath of the 
misguided people, thus giving evidence to the world that the new na- 
tion was capable of carrying out and perfecting an assumed obligation, 
notwithstanding a clamor. 

On the adjournment of the Fourth Congress Mr. Muhlenberg with- 
drew from active political life. He expressed to his friends a desire 
for rest from political strife, and from service of the public. He be- 
longed to that political party headed by Mr. Jefferson, known as Na- 
tional Republicans, but was determined to take no active part in party 
management. He continued, however, to write for the papers, strongly 
supporting the views of Mr. Jefferson. He was not destined to remain 
long out of office. The Collector General of the Pennsylvania Land 
Office was removed by the Governor, who immediately offered the place 
thus vacated to Mr. Muhlenberg, Accepting the office, he removed to 
Lancaster, then the seat of the state government. He assumed the 
duties of the office early in 1800, but lived only a year longer, dying 
on the 4th of June, 1801* 

He tilled with honor every position to which, he was called, and he 
woll deserved the confidence of the people of Pennsylvania. His patri- 
otism and statesmanship has never been, questioned. Political party 
strife and animosity were just beginning to divide the people when he 
passed away. He was an adherent of Jefferson, and there can be no 
doubt that had he lived that great statesman would have called him to 
some position of high honor. He has numerous descendants living in 
Pennsylvania and other parts of the country, and they take a justifi- 
able pride in keeping alive his memory. 



JONATHAN TRUMBTJIX Speaker of the House of Representatives in 

J the Second Congress. Born in Lebanon, Connecticut, March 26, 
1740, Son of Governor Jonathan and Faith (Robinson) Trumbull. 

Educated at Harvard College. Married, March 26, 1767, Miss Eunice 
Backus. Died in Lebanon, August 7, 1809, 

There are two Jonathan Trumbulls who occupy a high place in the 

history of the United States. One was that Jonathan Trumbull who 
did such great and effective service in the war for independence as 
Governor of Connecticut and as Commissary General in the army of 
Washington. It was that Jonathan Trumbull from whom we derive 
the title "Brother Jonathan," so often applied to the United States. 

The second was the Jonathan Trumbull of this sketch, a son of the 
great war Governor. He, too, like his distinguished father, served 
gallantly and well in the Revolutionary War, He succeeded Alexander 
Hamilton as the confidential aide of General Washington* He also 
served his State as its Governor. 

The family of Trumbull was among the early settlers in New Eng- 
land, In 1645 the first of the name came from England and settled at 
Ipswich, Massachusetts, Later one of them removed to Connecticut, 
making his home in Lebanon, This first one to come to Lebanon was 
the father of the first Governor Trumbull and grandfather of the 
second Chief Magistrate, the subject of this sketch. 

Jonathan Trumbull, who was the Speaker of the House of Repre- 
sentatives in the Second Congress, early displayed a love of learning. 
At the age of fifteen he entered Harvard College, completing his course 
in four years. He left the college with a reputation among the faculty 
and his fellow~studente as one of the brightest of his class. He was 
even then remarkable for his amiable manners and his studious traits. 
Leaving* college, he returned to his native village, where he soon be- 
came popular with the people. 

He was early called into the service of the public as a member of 
the State Legislature, - where he became influential among the mem- 
bers. War clouds were looming in the distant horizon, darkening* the 
political and social conditions among* the people. Young* Trumbull soon 
became a leader of those who talked of armed resistance to the mother 
country, and even then, incidentally, of future independence* 

He was ardent of speech, filled with the fire of patriotism, and fol- 
lowed in the footsteps of his illustrious father. The war came* It 
came while he was still a member of the Connecticut Legislature, but 
he at once offered his services to the Continental Congress, then sit- 
ting' in Philadelphia. He was appointed Paymaster to the army In the 
Northern Department, and later First Controller of the Treasury, He 
held those two positions until after the close of the campaign in % 1778. 


The death, of his oldest brother, who had been Commissary General 
in the army, caused Jonathan to resign to give his attention to the 
settlement of his brother's public accounts. When this task was com- 
pleted he again went to the army, and was made confidential secretary 
and aide to General Washington. This position he retained until the 
close of the war, enjoying the confidence and affection of his great 
chief, and the respect and esteem of all his brother officers. 

Peace came; independence was secured, the army disbanded, and a 
new nation was to take its place among the governments of the world. 
Colonel Trumbull returned to Lebanon and to the bosom of his family, 
there to enjoy for a short time a release from public duties and re- 
sponsibilities* It was said of him that he was especially happy in his 
domestic relations. Freed from public duties, he gave himself to his 
private concerns which had become, somewhat involved during his long- 
absence in the army. 

The Confederation was proving a failure, and a "more perfect 
Union" was desired. To bring this about Colonel Trumbull devoted 
much of his time and influence. In 1788 he was again elected a mem- 
ber of the State Legislature, and was chosen Speaker of the House. A 
new constitution was offered to the people for their ratification. To 
this Colonel Trumbull gave his hearty assent, and threw the weight of 
his influence toward securing its ratification by the people of Con- 

When it came time to select members of the new Union under the 
constitution, Colonel Trumbull was elected a member of the House of 
Representatives. It was a great Congress, with great duties and obli- 
gations resting upon it. Among those great men, constructive states- 
men as they were, Mr. Trumbull was one of the most active, acquiring 
a dominating: influence, especially with the members from the New 
England States. He took a prominent part in the debates, but was 
specially active in committee work. 

He was re-elected to the Second Congress, and when the House 
assembled was chosen Speaker. As Speaker he was affable and con- 
ciliatory. It was at the time when the people were beginning to divide 
into parties, first called "Strict Constructionists" and "Loose Construe- 
tionists/' then Federalists and Anti-Federalists, and still later, Fed- 
eralists and National Republicans, The sessions of the Second Con- 
gress were not as stormy as some of those which followed, but still 
there was a strong disposition on the part of some of the members to 
indulge in bitter speeches* These Speaker Trumbull held in check 
when he could do so without interfering with the freedom of debate 

He was a member of the Third Congress, but was not re-elected 
Speaker. Before the expiration of his term the Legislature of Connec- 
ticut elected Mm to a seat in the United States Senate, He held this 


seat but two years, resigning in 1796 on beinff elected Lieutenant Gov- 
ernor of Ms State. 

This position he held until by the death of Governor Wolcott he was 
elevated to the Chief Magistracy, a position he held until his own 

death, serving as Governor eleven years. During his service us Gov- 

ernor war was raging in Europe and the rights of the United States 
on the seas were continually ignored by the warring governments. To 

check this, and to compel Great Britain and France to recognise our 
rights on the seas, and to cease from their offensive acts, the adminis- 
tration undertook to enforce an embargo act. The embargo was but 
lightly enforced in some parts of the country, and in others wholly 

To remedy this Congress passed a law to secure its* more rigid en- 
forcement. The President was empowered to call upon the Governors 
of the several States to assist in its enforcement. Such a call was 
made upon Governor Trumbull by the Secretary of War, acting under 
the instructions of the President. As Commander-in-chief of the State 
militia he was requested to appoint some officer at each port of entry, 
with orders, when application was made to him by the collector, to 
immediately assemble a sufficient force of the troops under his com- 
mand, and to employ them in maintaining and enforcing the embargo 

This the Governor declined to do. He declared that in his opinion 
the law of Congress for the more efficient enforcement of the embargo 
was, in many of its provisions, unconstitutional ; interfering with the 
powers reserved to the States, and endangering the peace and anfoty 
of the community. He stood steadfast to his position* 

In this attitude he was supported by the people of Connecticut, It 
was, indeed, the forerunner of the famous "Hartford Convention'* of a 
few years later. This was practically the closing scene of his public 
and political life* as he died a few months later* Of this grave event 
one writer says: "His death spread a general gloom, and filled the 
public mind with deep anxiety and regret. . , Patriotism and friend- 
ship wept over his bier. Party forgot its opposition and aapority, and 
united to honor the sepulchre over his remains/* 

A few years ago one of the Historical Societies of Connecticut caused 
to be printed a short sketch of the life and character of Mr, Trumbull 
In, it the main characteristics of this distinguished man and patriot are 
thus given : 

The disposition of hi mind, and natural tendencies of hi gouiUH, led him to 
endeavor more to bo uttaful than brilliant. Ho wished rather for enti^m than 
applauHQ, and hi tatentH were loss showy than solid. In public debate? ho www 

attempted to dazzle the understanding by rhetorical allusions, nor to silence opposi- 

tion by the pomp and splendor of hi eloquence, But he never failed to pleago by 

the graceful noss of MB manner and elegance of hin language, and command respect 

by propriety of argument, strength of judgment and extent of information. 


He presided with peculiar felicity in deliberative assemblies. His polite atten- 
tion, quickness of perception, and perfect acquaintance with the rules of proceed- 
ing, facilitated the transaction of business; while with graceful dignity he regu- 
lated debate, and softened the asperity of parties, 

In private society his manners were peculiarly attractive. He appeared in the 
friendly circle with the look of cheerfulness, the smile of philanthropy, and the 
eye that sparkled with vivacity and intelligence. Accustdtned to the best company, 
and skilled in all the politeness of the gentleman, he could adapt his discourse, 
with great facility, to the inclinations, topics and understanding of all classes of 
people; aiming rather to acquire than to display information; not to dictate in 
opinion, but to obtain advantage from the knowledge and experience of age, and 
amusement from the innocent gayeties of youth ; to promote the rational and elegant 
pleasures of life, and the satisfaction of every social party, that was favored by 
his presence. He never attempted to engross conversation; nor sought admiration 
by brilliancy of fancy, o<r ostentation of learning and argument. He never affected 
to shine, and never failed to please. 

Of punctuality in attendance on business, in the exact performance of his en- 
gagements, and in all his dealings with mankind, and in faithfulness in the prompt 
execution of every trust committed to his charge, he afforded an uncommon exam- 
ple. The duties and labors of every day were entered upon in regular order, and 
finished by its close, without hurry, confusion or embarrassment. Every account 
was adjusted, and all public correspondence answered in season. None could ever 
accuse him for delay or disappointment, and none ever went justly dissatisfied 
from his presence. 

Ho excelled in all the duties of social life ; as the consort, the parent, the neigh- 
bor, and the friend; as the generous patron of merit, the kind benefactor of the 
distressed, and the liberal encourager of every public institution, and every useful 

The enterprising ambition and political art of the statesman, the bold imagina- 
tion of the orator who rules the fate of kingdoms by his eloquence, and the intre- 
pidity of the hero, rendered invincible by HUCCOSS, dazzle the eyes of the multitude 
with surprise and admiration, and afford the most brilliant themes of biographical 
eulogy. But strength of judgment and an enlightened understanding, the steady 
exertions of friendship and patriotism, and the virtues of a heart, regulating all 
its conduct by the principles of justice, morality and religion, can alone form the 
man of true greatness of character, and value in society* . . . 

During the interesting period in which he held the chief magistracy of the State, 
his virtues commanded the highest respect, and awed the clamors of prejudice and 
opposition. In times when calumny assailed every man conspicuous in rank, and 
exposed with malignant invective the faults and failings of every public charac- 
ter, hiH political adversaries, though they opposed and censured the measures of 
his administration, never attempted to call m question the rectitude of his inten- 
tions, or to fix a stain upon his reputation. 

Another, a contemporary, and one who knew him well In all relations 
of life, as a public officer, a private citizen, and in social life, thus 

wrote of him : 

Governor Trumbuil was the son of a man, who by the public acknowledgment 
was one of the most dignified and usef ul, one of the wisest and best Rulers, whose 
names adorn the pages of history. In the steps of this honorable Parent, the Son 
trode, through life, with an undeviating course. Soon after he had finished his 
education, he began to servo his country, first in the Legislature, and then in the 
Bevolutionary army* Here, in respectable stations, he continued, with a, short in- 
terruption, through the war. Soon after the establishment of peace he was chosen 


again into the Legislature, of which he was regularly a member until the present 
American Constitution was adopted. Ho then was elected a Representative, and 
soon after a Senator of the United States. From the last station he was removed 
to the second, and then to the first Chair of Magistracy in Ms native State, To 
the latter he was annually elected by hiss fellow citizens, until he was removed by 
death, In all these situations, he acquired, uniformly, the approbation and respect 
of those with whom, and of those for whom he acted. Not a spot is loft upon hift 
memory; distracted as was the season of his public life, and difficult as was the* 
task of satisfying the demands of those whom he served. Such a career, only hon- 
orable to himself, and only useful to his country, is a proof of hia worth, which 
can never be assailed by hostility, questioned by criticism, nor impaired by time. 
Experience has assayed the ore, and proved it to be pure gold. On it his country 
has authoritatively stamped the image, and inscribed the testimony of her own 
approbation; and has thus given to it an undisputed currency through the world, 

Contented to view men and measures as they were, hi$ mind annexed to them 

nothing adventitious; neither light nor shade; neither beauty nor deformity* He 
chose to see everything in its native colors ; and in thin manner saw it with a truth 
and correctness which no sanguine man ever attained. To tht mode of contemn* 
plating; every subject all his plans and measures were conformed. They ware, 
therefore, universally the plans* and measures of sound, unbiased common t^nse; 
and never the dream of fancy, nor the headlong projects of inconsiderate ardor* 

Governor Trumbull was a man of deep religions sentiments, and 
carried his religion into his daily life. Justice seems to have been the 

guide of his actions, and although many criticised his actions and the 
stand he took in defying the general government in the matter of en- 
forcing the embargo law, yet all his contemporaries, whether of his 
own or of the opposite party, credited him with a sincere belief in the 

righteousness of his actions* 


JONATHAN DAYTON Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 
Fourth and Fifth Congresses. Born at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 
October 16, 1760, Son of General Elias and Hannah (Eolfe) Dayton* 
Educated at Princeton College. Died in EUzabethtown, New Jersey, 
October 9, 1824. 

Jonathan Dayton was graduated from college at the age of sixteen 
years. Young as he was, he at once joined the army of independence, 
and was made paymaster in the regiment commanded by his father. 
He served throughout the Revolutionary War with great gallantry. 
He served on the staff of General Sullivan, and then on that of Lafay- 
ette, winning: high praise from the latter for gallantry in action. At 
one time he was captured by the British, but was soon exchanged* 
when he again went to the front, 

He was a man of brilliant parts, and even before the close of the war 
when independence was won he became active in the politics of the 
day. A lawyer by profession, he acquired the faculty of ready speak- 


ing, winning distinction as an orator. The close of the war brought 

forward the great question of the future of the new nation. The States 
were held together by very slender threads, and the Congress was com- 
pelled to rely almost wholly on the whim, of the thirteen individual 
States. This weakness was felt even before independence was finally 
won, but it became manifest more and more as the country drew away 
from actual wax. The necessity for some change was early recognized, 
and an agitation in that direction sprang up in each of the States. 

General Elias Dayton, father of the subject of this sketch, was one 
of the leading citizens of New Jersey. He had been prominent before 
the war, and his conduct during the struggle with the mother country 
intensified his popularity with the people. When the agitation for a 
stronger Union began, he at once took the lead of it. Jonathan also 
became active and did not confine his labors to speechmaking, but used 
every effort in private conversation to urge the patriots of New Jersey 
to unite heart and soul in the cause of a stronger Union. 

In this he was very successful, and he took rank among* the leaders 
in this movement. When it came time to select delegates to the con- 
vention to frame a constitution, General Dayton was the first to be 
chosen. He declined the position in favor of his son Jonathan, who 
was promptly named for the place. 

He was the youngest man in the convention, and at the same time 
one of the most active. He made a number of short speeches on the 
various propositions submitted for consideration. He favored the plan 
of Hamilton, or rather the theories of that distinguished statesman. 
He favored a strong central government, a government with ample 
power to maintain itself and to place the country in a favored position 
among the nations of the earth. His activities and his mental grasp 
of the situation won for him the friendship of such great men as 
James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. The Constitution was per- 
fected and signed by most of the delegates to the convention, Jonathan 
Dayton being the youngest man to sign that immortal instrument, the 
instrument declared by a great statesman of England to be the most 
perfect system of government ever devised by the brain of man. 

On his return to New Jersey he at once became active in preparing 
the people to ratify and accept the Constitution just framed. New 
Jersey was the third State to ratify the Constitution, and it was done 
by a unanimous vote of the convention. It made no recommendations 
or suggested no amendment, but took the instrument as it came from 
its makers. This unanimity was largely due to the influence of Jona- 
than Dayton and his father. 

He was elected to the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Congresses, 
serving as Speaker in the Fourth and Fifth Congresses. He was a 
Federalist in politics, and of the very strongest kind. Frederick Muh- 
lenberg, who had served as Speaker in the Third Congress, was not 


strong enough In his political leanings to suit the followers of Hamil- 
ton. This was the last session under the administration of President 
Washington, and "Strict Constructionists" were developing a strength 

that alarmed the Federalists, or "Loose Constructionists/ 1 and Muh- 
Icnberg had given evidence of a leaning toward the Jeffersonian wing, 

The Federalists had a majority in the House, so they set Muhlenberg 
aside and gave the place to Dayton. He was then but thirty-five years 
of age. lie had been active in the Third and Fourth Congresses as 

one of the champions and defenders of Hamilton. He had supported 
the President in every measure of the administration. 

His prestige of having been a member of the convention which 
framed the Constitution and his acknowledged gifts of oratory made 
him prominent in the House at his first entrance as a member. On 
numberless occasions questions arose in the House as to the true inter- 
pretation of some provision of the Constitution, and Representative 
Dayton was always called upon to give his version. So clear was his 
statements and so strong his reasonings that his interpretation was 
accepted without question in nearly every instance. 

He was very active in debate, taking* part in almost every one Even 
when Speaker he took advantage of the House being in Committee of 
the Whole to press his views on his colleagues. A number of perplex- 
ing questions were before Congress while he was a member, one of 
them being the treaty negotiated by Mr* Jay with Great Britain, It 
was very obnoxious to a great number of Americans, and whon the 
House was called upon to appropriate the money necessary to carry it 
into effect it aroused the most bitter opposition, a number of members 
indulging in hard words toward President Washington, 

Mr. Dayton, although Speaker, took an active part in tho discus- 
sions, making several speeches, some of them at considerable length* 
Of one of those speeches the Annals of Congress gives the following 
report : 

To those, he said, who regarded thin second treaty with Great Britain with din* 
agreeable 8en&ationH*~~to those who believed that It did not contain In It such fcorm 

as the United States had reason to expect, and even a right to demand 4o all 
those whose indignation had been excited at tho unwarrantable outrage com- 
mitted by that nation upon tho rights of our neutral powers, who had HWM thai? 
high-handed acts with astonishment, and tho whole conduct of tholr lutmintstm- 
turn toward this country with abhorrenceto those whose attachment for tho 
French, nobly Btruff#lin# for their liberties, was sincere, and who ardently wished 
their revolution might terminate in tbo establishment of jarood and Htabk gov- 
ernment- -to all of thin description ho could, with propriety, address himtwlf and 
Hay that he harmonized with them in opinion, and that hi feelings were in per- 
fect unison with theirs. But if, he Bald, there should bo found in that assembly 
one member whoso affection for any other nation exceeded that which he enter- 
tained for this, whose Representative he waa if there could even be found immgle 
man whose hatred to any other country was greater than his love for America* 
him he would consider as MB enemy, hostile to tho interests of the people who sent 


him there, utterly unqualified to judge rightly of their concerns, and a betrayer of 
the trust reposed in him. He could not believe it possible there were any such 
amon$ them, and he was convinced that everyone must see and feel the necessity 
of divesting" himself of all his hatred, all his prejudices, and even all attachments 
that were in the least degree inconsistent with an unbiased deliberation and deci- 
sion. The good and the prosperity of the people of the United States ought to be 
the primary object. It was that alone which their Representatives were delegated 
and commissioned more immediately to promote, and who would deny that it was 
intimately connected with and involved in the vote they were about to give. 

Mr. Dayton concluded his lengthy address by saying that, although 

he was not pleased with many parts of the treaty, yet he should vote 
for the resolution appropriating the money because he loved his coun- 
try, and to that love would sacrifice every resentment, every prejudice, 
every personal consideration. He said he should vote to carry the 
treaty into effect with good faith, because he sincerely believed that 
the interests of his fellow-citizens would be much more promoted by 
that than by the opposite line of conduct. 

Mr. Dayton also favored and supported the system of taxation de- 
vised by Mr. Hamilton. This system was violently opposed by many 
of the members, especially by those from the Southern States. They 
held it was an encroachment on the rights of the States in a number 
of its provisions. As is known, the system, when adopted by Con- 
gress, had to run the gauntlet of the courts as to certain of its provi- 
sions. The courts held the system, in its entirety, in harmony with 
the rights and powers conferred on Congress by the Constitution. 

As Speaker he was always dignified. He was a partisan Federalist, 
but the opposition never charged him with being unduly partial in his 
rulings. While in the Second and Third Congresses he had been a fre- 
quent speaker, taking part in all the major debates ; in the Fourth and 
Fifth Congresses he rarely addressed the House, except when called 
upon for an interpretation of some provision of the Constitution. 

The Fifth Congress was the first under the administration of Presi- 
dent John Adams, one of the most radical of Federalists. There had 
been occasional opposition in the House in the preceding Congresses 
to the administration of President Washington, but under Adams the 
opposition was almost continuous. Hamilton's administration of the 
Treasury Department was a constant subject of attack by the friends 
of Jefferson, and it was hard for Mr* Dayton to steer clear of embar- 
rassments as Speaker, owing to his devotion to the Hamiltotrian theo- 
ries. He was not only a warm, personal friend of Mr. Hamilton, but 
he was a firm believer in his integrity as a public official and an equally 
firm advocate of his doctrine of "implied powers." According to the 
Annals of Congress, there were occasional flurries against the Speaker 
over some ruling, but they were never very serious. 

At the close of the Fifth, Congress, Mr. Dayton retired from the 
House, having been elected a member of the Senate. In that body 


he served a full term of six years. In the Senate, as had been the case 
in the House, Mr. Dayton was frequently called upon for his interpre- 
tation of some part of the Constitution. He joined in other debates, 
but did not wield the influence on the other Senators he had wielded 
in the House. He served the first four years of the administration of 
President Jefferson. While in the Senate President Adams had given 
him a commission as brigadier general at the time it was believed war 
with France was imminent. The war failed to develop, and Mr. Dayton 
resigned, that he might hold his seat in the Senate* 

Retiring from the Senate at the end of his term, he returned to the 
practice of law. In 1807 he was arrested for being concerned in the 
plots of Aaron Burr. The two had been boyhood friends and had 
served in the army together. How deeply he was concerned in the 
plotting of that brilliant conspirator was never made known, as Mr. 
Dayton was released without a trial. It was known, however, that he 
was on the most intimate terms with Burr, and had met him at Cin- 
cinnati on one of Burr's tours of the West, and that he was closely 
connected with Burr's conferences with Mr. Merry, the British Min- 
ister at Washington. In Merry's correspondence with his government 
he often mentioned Mr. Dayton. Mr. Dayton was also frequently the 
agent of Burr in communications with Marquis of Caso Yrujo, the 
Spanish Minister. The most of Dayton's efforts seem to have been 
confined to efforts to get money from one or the other. In fact, it has 
never yet been developed what Burr's scheme really was. Dayton 
must have been trusted by Burr, so far as Burr could or did trust any 
man, but it is doubtful if he knew Burr's real designs. That he did 
believe Burr had some designs on both Mexico and Louisiana is evi- 
denced by a letter he sent to General Wilkinson by Peter V. Qgdetu In 
that letter the following paragraph occurs : 

It is now well ascertained that you are to be displaced in next soMtuon. 

HOW will affect to yield reluctantly to the public sentiment, but yield he will Pre- 
pare yourself, therefore, for it. You know the rest* You are not a man to 
despair, or even despond, especially when such prospects offer in another (patter* 
Are you ready? Are your numerous associates ready? Wealth and glory! 
Louisiana and Mexico! 1 shall have time to receive a letter from you before I mi 
out for OhioOhio. 

It is not pleasant to recall such things, especially when they touch 
so nearly a man who, like Jonathan Dayton, had served the country 
so well in so many different spheres. But no good can bo accomplished 
by keeping them back. Prior to 1805 the career of Mr* Dayton had 
been one of exalted service to the country* No one had ever challenged 
his patriotism or his integrity. He had been deservedly popular with 
the people of New Jersey and with his colleagues in the House and 
Senate. So popular was his first iservic as Speaker that ha was re- 
elected by the next House by a vote of 78 to 2. 


Although he was never brought to trial for his connection with 
Burr, it clouded his whole after life. He remained at Elizabethtown 
and there practiced law, but never again held a public office. 

Mr, Dayton became largely interested in the development of the 
Ohio Valley, joining with Symes and others in this. He invested much 
of his means in the purchase of lands and in opening them for settle- 
ment. The city of Dayton, Ohio, is named for him. 


EORGE DENT Speaker for two days in Fifth Congress. Born in 
VJ St. Charles County, Maryland, about 1760. Classical education. 
Died in St. Mary's County, Maryland, October 15, 1842, 

All that can be found as to George Dent, who served as Speaker of 
the House of Representatives for two days, during the absence of 
Speaker Jonathan Dayton, is contained in a short paragraph in the 
Biographical Congressional Directory. It reads : 

Pursued classical studies; held several local offices; was first lieutenant in 
Capt Thomas Hanson's company in Charles County in 1776, and served as a 
private in the first regiment Maryland line from May 25, 1778, until his discharge 
on April 8, 1779; elected as a Democrat to the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth 
Congresses (March 4, 1798-March 8, 1801) ; elected Speaker pro tempore April 20, 
1798 (during the illness of Speaker Dayton), and served two days; appointed 
United States Marshal for the Potomac District by President Jefferson in 1801. 
Died in St* Mary's County, Maryland, October 15, 1842. 


THBODOEK SBBGWICK Speaker of the House of Representatives in 
the Sixth Congress. Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, May 9, 
1746. Son of Benjamin and Ann (Thompson) Sedgwick. Educated 
at Yale College. Married Eliza Mason, Pamelia Dwight, and Penelope 
Russell. Died in Boston, Massachusetts, January 24, 1818, 

A soldier in the Revolutionary army ; twice a member of the Massa- 
chusetts Legislature; twice a delegate to the Continental Congress; 
again a member of the Massachusetts Legislature for two years; a 
delegate to the convention called to ratify the Constitution of 1788 ; a 
member of the National House of Representatives in the First, Second, 
Third, and Fourth Congresses ; a short term in the United States Sen- 
ate ; member of the House of Representatives and Speaker in the Sixth 
Congress ; Judge of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. Such is the 
public record of Theodore Sedgwick patriot, soldier, statesman, and 
jurist, serving with distinguished ability in every sphere. Yet he is 
given only a paragraph in the encyclopedias, and what is more to be 


regretted, Massachusetts, the State he served so long and so well, has 
failed to place on permanent record the story of his life and services. 

Something of his activities while a member of the National House of 
Representatives can be gleaned from the meagor reports of his 
speeches found in the Annals of Congress. From those reports, meaner 
and unsatisfactory as they often arc, some estimate can be formed of 
his talents, his temperament, and his influence in shaping legislation. 
But as to the man himself, his relations to his fellow men, nothing can 
be obtained from that source. 

He was born in Connecticut, and after receiving a classical education 
began the study of theology. This he later abandoned and took up the 
study of law. Having received his degree and being admitted to the 
bar /'he removed from Connecticut to Massachusetts, beginning the 
practice of his profession at Barring-ton, removing later to- Sheffield. 
Of his success, there is nothing of record to give us an idea, but in 
Congress lie was regarded as a profound lawyer, and hi& eminent serv- 
ice as Judge of the Supreme Court gives us a right to believe be was 
at least ordinarily successful in practice. 

It was at the opening of that era which "triad men's souls." The 
Colonists were agitating resistance to the oppressions of King George 
and his Parliament. Into this agitation young Sedgwick entered with 
all the ardor and enthusiasm of youth. Possessing special talents as a 
speaker, he was frequently called upon to address meetings of the 
patriots. He soon won popularity with the people, a popularity he 
retained to the end of his life. The war came, and young Scdgwick 
joined the army, taking: part in the unfortunate and ill-advised expedi- 
tion to Canada in 1776. 

When peace came he resumed the practice of his profession, but in 
1782 he was elected a member of the Massachusetts Legislature^ serv- 
ing two years. He was twice sent to the Continental Congress, and 
was active in support of the movement for a closer and more perfect 
union of the States. He wa$ one of those who recognized the weakness 
of the bonds which then held the States together, and that a ntronger 
central government was needed and must be organized if tho new 
nation was to ever be able to defend itself from its enemies* 

The Constitution of 1738 being formulated and submitted to the* 
people, Mr. Sedgwick began an active campaign for its ratification. 
He wan elected a delegate to the convention called in Massachusetts to 
consider the subject, and there favored an immediate and cordial 
ratification of the instrument. 

In politics he was a Federalist. He believed in the Hamiltonian 
theory of government, and wished that the new government be made 
stronger than it was in the Constitution as finally adopted and ratified, 
but not obtaining all he desired he enthusiastically placed himself 
among those who would accept the Constitution as it wa f and would 


stand by the Union formed under it. He was elected a Representative 
to the First Congress, and three times re-elected, resigning Ms seat in 
the Fourth Congress to accept an appointment to the Senate to fill a 
vacancy occasioned by the resignation of the sitting member. 

In the House he was a champion and defender of Alexander Hamil- 
ton, Secretary of the Treasury. All that was needed to get Mm on his 
feet with an impassioned speech was for some member of the House 
to attack his political idol. He accepted Hamilton's idea of "implied 
powers," and the financial policy which followed. He sustained these 
with all the power of his logic and eloquence on the floor of the House. 

In the House were a number of members who held to the Jefferso- 
nian theory of "strict construction," and the attacks upon Hamilton 
were frequent. Especially was his policy of establishing a national 
bank obnoxious to them. They were in constant fear that the central 
government, if permitted to be as strong as Hamilton desired, would 
sooner or later interfere with the rights of the States. Hence, their 
desire to strangle the Hamilton idea at its birth. 

Among the most violent and persistent of the strict constructionists 
was Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina. He not only disagreed with 
Hamilton as to the powers of the government, but appeared to be 
animated with a hatred toward that great master-mind of finance. He 
repeatedly attacked the Secretary, and on more than one occasion 
strongly intimated there was corruption in the administration of the 
Department of the Treasury. The tilts between Macon and Sedgwick 
were often of almost daily occurrence. The Massachusetts member 
was a veritable thorn in the flesh to the gentleman from North Caro- 
lina. While never actually offending against strict parliamentary 
rules, his language sometimes bordered very close to the line, 

During his four terms in the House, Mr. Sedgwick had established 
himself as one of the leaders of the Federalists, and when a vacancy 
occurred in the Senate, the Governor of Massachusetts at once named 
him for the vacancy. He served in that body a little short of two 
years, but long enough to give him an opportunity to once more come 
to the defense of Hamilton. 

Re-elected to the House, he was chosen Speaker in the Sixth Con- 
gress, defeating his political enemy, Nathaniel Macon. The Sixth Con- 
gress was one of many exciting things. It was the first to hold its 
sessions in the new capital of the country Washington, It was to 
decide who was to be President Thomas Jefferson or Aaron Burr. 

As Speaker, Mr. Sedgwick was firm, and sometimes rather positive 
and aggressive in his rulings. There was little of the conciliatory 
element in his mental makeup. He had been born and reared in a 
puritanical atmosphere, and there was much of the puritanical intoler- 
ance in his administration, 


During his incumbency of that office there was one occurrence which 
angered him to the very depths of his being, but which furnished a 
subject of laughter and amusement to many of the other members. In 
those days there was no gallery set apart for the use of representa- 
tives of the press. In fact, there were only two or three papers which 
made any pretense of publishing the proceedings in Congress in any- 
thing like detail. There was one paper, however, that, by its strictures 
on Hamilton and its editorial comments on some of his rulings, had 
angered the Speaker. It was the only paper which sent its reporter 
daily to the House. He had been permitted to keep a small table in 
the rear of the Hall One day when he appeared he found his table out 
in the corridor, and he was refused admittance to the chamber of the 
House by the doorkeeper, that official explaining it was by order of the 

The reporter was a genuine member of the craft, and was not to be 
put down by so small a thing as an order from a Speaker. He shoul- 
dered his table, slipped up the stairway and ensconced himself in the 
gallery ; he selected a point where he would not be in view from the 
Speaker's desk, 

As might he expected, his reports were a little more vivid than pre- 
viously, and it was said they were a little more full than before. The 
Speaker was amazed when he saw the paper and found the full report 
of the proceedings of the House, and wondered how the report was 
obtained. This went on for several days before the Speaker learned of 
the hide-away in the gallery. His anger was deeper than before, and 
he at once issued an order excluding the reporter from the gallery. 
The matter was taken before the House and an angry debate followed, 
The Speaker stuck to his guns and the reporter was left out in the cold- 

What made the matter more amusing to the outsiders, and more 
offensive to the Speaker, was what followed during the voting for 
President. The sessions of the House during the balloting were held 
behind closed doors, like executive sessions of the Senate are to this 
day. Secret sessions had no terrors for that reporter, and every morn- 
ing his paper appeared with a full and complete report of the balloting* 
giving the vote of each State. An effort was made to discover where 
the leak was, but the reporter was very ignorant on every phano of 
that subject* 

Jefferson and Burr had received the same number of electoral votes, 
and, as the Constitution then read, the House was called upon to decide 
which of the two should be President, The Federalists did not like 
either of them, and at first there was a strong effort by some of tho 
leaders to give the preference to Burr. It was not because they actu- 
ally preferred Burr, but had hopes by putting him ahead of Jefferson 
they would weaken their political foes. Speaker Sedj?wick was long 


accused of being deep in this plot. The real truth of the charge was 
never established. 

Leaving Congress, Mr. Sedgwick was made one of the Judges of the 
Massachusetts Supreme Court. There he displayed qualities of the 
highest order. He was fearless and upright in his decisions. It was a 
decision rendered by him which declared that slavery and the Massa- 
chusetts constitution were incompatible; that under the constitution 
involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, could not 
exist in that State. This was the first of the decisions against slavery 
in the Northern States. 

Mr. Sedgwick was a partisan of the strongest kind. This is evi- 
denced by the speeches he made in the House. He was an ardent sup- 
porter of the administrations of Presidents Washington and John 
Adams. As Speaker he was firm but not always judicious. No taint 
ever was fastened upon him. His integrity was of the sternest kind. 
That was displayed both as a member of Congress and as a Judge on 
the bench. He was unfortunate that his partisanship was of so strong 
a nature that the House refused to give him the accustomed vote of 
thanks at the close of his term as Speaker. This neglect made a sour 
and disappointed man of him. 

lie was one of the builders of our government. He served in Con- 
gress in the constructive days, when all things had to be thought out 
and put in practice. His patriotism was unquestioned, and, as a rule, he 
was wise and prudent in advocating or opposing measures presented 
for consideration. It may be said of him, as it was of another : "Gal- 
lant as a soldier, wise as a legislator, just and upright as a jurist." 

Mr. Sedgwick was a firm believer in what in these days we charac- 
terize by the one word, "Preparedness." We were having trouble with 
the Barbary Powers, and at the same time trouble with France was 
looming up. Congress had passed an act providing for the building of 
a number of new frigates. At the next session an attempt was made 
to reduce the number to be built. The "pacifists" of those days were 
opposing anything which looked like a measure of protection, or of 
asserting the rights of American citizens. In one of his short speeches 
on the subject he declared that to reduce the number of frigates to be 
built would render the United States an object of ridicule to foreign 
countries, and eventuate in our having to purchase peace with Tunis 
and Tripoli at a cost far exceeding that needed to construct the 

The debate in the House over the Jay treaty was one covering many 
days, and all shades of opinion concerning the rights and powers of the 
House were ventilated. At one time a resolution was offered calling on 
the President to lay before the House a copy of the instruction which 
had been given to Mr. Jay when he was sent to negotiate the treaty, 
This was strenuously opposed by the friends of the administration, 


Among; others Mr. Sedgwick took part in the debate. He began one 
address with the pertinent statement that he considered it one of the 
most important questions ever before the House; that the question 
really was, "Whether this House should, by construction and implica- 
tion, extend its controlling influence to subjects which were expressly, 
and he thought exclusively, delegated by the people to another depart- 
ment of the Government/' As to the rights and powers of the several 
departments of the Government, he said : "If either should usurp the 
appropriate powers of another, anarchy, confusion, or despotism must 
ensue; the functions of the usurping power would not be legitimate, 
but their exercise despotism. If the power of controlling treaties was 
not in the House, the same spirit which might usurp it might also 
declare the existence of the House perpetual, and fill the vacancies as 
they should occur." 


NATHANIEL MAGON Speaker of the House of Representatives* in the 
Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Congresses* Born in Warren County, 

North Carolina, December 17, 1758, Son of Gideon and Priseilla 
Macon, Educated at Princeton College. Married, October 9, 1738, 
Miss Hannah Hummer. Died at Maeon Manor, Warren County, North 
Carolina, June 29, 1887* 

For more than a third of a century Nathaniel Macon was a political 
power in North Carolina, practically for much of that time dictating 
not only the policy of his party, but naming the candidates* He was 
elected thirteen times a member of the National House of Representa- 
tives, and then served twelve years as a member of the Senate* 

During six of the years he served in the House he was the Speaker 
of that body. He exercised great influence in both the House and the 
Senate. This is something remarkable, for usually he was in what 
might be termed "the Opposition" ; that is, opposed to the administra- 
tion* John Randolph said of him: "He is the beat, the purest, the 
wisest man, I ever knew.*' 

Under the light of events as we can see them now, he would hardly 
be counted one of the wisest men of the country. The wise statesman 
is the one who can look forward into the future and determine the 
effect of a proposed policy in the years to come, as well as to its imme- 
diate effect. Also, the wise statesman can take a comprehensive view 
of the country as a whole, 

In both those respects Mr. Macon failed. His legislation, his policy, 
was always for that present time. Nor could he take into his heart 
the country as a whole* His view was narrowed to the South. He 
actually hated New England, and could not bring himself to legislate 
or adopt a policy that would benefit the people of that section of the 


country. Yet, viewing his whole record, taking in his thirty-six years 
of service in the National Legislature, he was a great man. 

The Macon family were of French Huguenot descent. In coming to 
America they first settled in Virginia, and many of their descendants 
still reside in the Old Dominion, Gideon, the father of the subject of 
this sketch, emigrated to upper North Carolina in the first half of the 
eighteenth century. Upper North Carolina seems to have been a 
favorite place for migrating Virginians. This migrating Virginian 
was not then among the wealthy planters, but was able to take up a 
few hundred acres on the south side of Roanoke Eiver. There he 
erected a rather pretentious house, to which he gave the name of 
Macon Manor, although it was of small dimensions. It is said that it 
was the first house in that part of North Carolina to be supplied with 
glass windows. 

The farm or plantation opened up by this Gideon Macon consisted of 
some five hundred acres of land, on which the main product was 
tobacco. From time to time he was able to purchase a negro slave, 
until he finally became owner of some fifteen or twenty. It appears 
that before his death he was able to become the owner of some three 
thousand acres of land. His wife, the mother of Nathaniel, was a 
woman of more than ordinary strength of character ; indeed, a woman 
of much force, possessing executive ability of high order. Nathaniel 
was the sixth child born to them, and was but five years old when his 
father died, leaving him to the sole care and direction of his mother. 
Most excellently did she care for him. 

Mr. Macon has been unfortunate in his biographers. They seldom 
agree as to dates, and frequently differ very materially as to facts and 
incidents of his career* It is difficult at this date to sift out and recon- 
cile the contradictory statements. There is little in any of them as to 
the boyhood of young Nathaniel. His mother recognized that her son 
possessed rare abilities which, if properly nourished and directed, 
would, in the end, give him a high place among his fellow men. She 
engaged for him the teaching services of a prominent Episcopal clergy- 
man, who fitted him for college. 

When it came time for him to select the college where he was to 
finish his education, the choice fell on Princeton, which he entered at 
fifteen years of age. Little is recorded as to his college life. He may 
have had some ambition for himself, and some vague dreams of a 
future full of usefulness to his country; but if so, he gave no evidence 
of it, so far as was known to his family or friends. It is stated that 
his choice of associates while in college tended toward those of more 
mature years than of those of his own age. He was a thoughtful boy, 
interested more in the farming conditions of his section of the country 
than in politics. 


His education, if we are to judge from his after-career, was {food, 
although he did not complete his collegiate term* It was substantial 

rather than showy, thorough as to what was covered. His short col- 
legiate career was at a time when the country was torn over the exac- 
tions of the mother country, when the Colonists were talking of armed 
resistance. Just what part, if any, he took in the discussions* about 
the doings of Parliament is not disclosed by any letters of his that 
were preserved. North Carolina, at that time, was mostly loyal to the 
King, and some of the family of our subject actually took service in 
the armies endeavoring to overawe the Colonists. 

Young Nathaniel joined a company of militia while still a student at 
Princeton. If he did anything more at that time for the future inde- 
pendence of America, it is not known. The war, and the talk of war, 
soon absorbed the attention of faculty and students, and the college 
was closed. Nathaniel had been in college but two years when its clos- 
ing: turned his face again to his home on the Roanoko. Ho did not 
return to east in his fortunes with those who were fighting 1 for liberty. 
Instead, he entered an office to study law, a profession he never fol- 
lowed. In that quiet pursuit of knowledge ho continued for the next 
three years. War was all around him; others were shouldering a 
musket or Hashing a sword in the cause of the colonies, but young: 
Macon took no part* So far as we can learn, he held, even then, 
strongly to the doctrine which afterward became known as "States 
Rights/' for he believed the militia of North Carolina should not go 
out of the boundaries of that State, but if engaged at all in the strug- 
gle, it must be to repel invasion only. 

To this attitude he strongly clung during all his after life- lie was 
one of the last to give in his adhesion to the Constitution in 1788 
because of the enlarged powers it gave to the central government. At 
every opportunity while in Congress he opposed the strengthening of 
the navy or of the army. He was, in his day, a pacifist of the inont 
pronounced type* 

His brother John, on the other hand, was an earnest advocate of 
resistance to Parliament, and early raised a company and joined the 
patriot army under Washington* Yet his attitude of quietly remain- 
ing 1 at home somehow did not render him unpopular witlt hm neigh- 
bors, and some of hia biographers claim he was devotedly attached to 
the cause of the colonists. In 1780, before he was twenty-one years of 
age, he was chosen a member of the General Assembly of the State. 
When North Carolina WEB threatened with invasion, he did join a 
company of militia. Here, again, his biographers differ materially, 
Some claim he was present at Fort Mo-nitric when Charleston fell, and 
others* declare he never left North Carolina* Tt is pretty well settled, 
however, that he did take part in the disastrous battle of Oamdon, 
when Gates was so disastrously defeated, and that ho marched with 


General Greene in his retreat across North Carolina, While he was 
with Greene he was summoned to attend the sessions of the Genera] 
Assembly. This summons he refused to obey on the ground that he 
was in the army, and his presence at the front was necessary. 

General Greene, healing of this refusal, sent for him and inquired 
as to his reasons for not obeying the call of the Governor. It is re- 
ported that the young soldier retorted that he had on numerous occa- 
sions seen the faces of the British, but never their backs, and he in- 
tended to remain with the army until he did see the backs of the foe 
This retort pleased the great General, but he argued that Macon coulc 
do more good to the cause at that time as a member of the Genera 
Assembly than by carrying a musket ; that in the General Assembly 
he could materially assist in securing the supplies so badly needed b? 
the army, and also money with which to pay the troops. 

Macon listened to this appeal of his General, left the army, attendee 
the General Assembly, and there, by his activities and energies, wa 
instrumental in securing the supplies which enabled Greene to tun 
and face Cornwallls, If this is true, it mitigates, if it does not entirel; 
wipe out, any strictures as to his remaining quietly at home whil 
others were fighting. 

Just what part he played in the General Assembly cannot be defi 
nitely determined, as the records of the General Assembly for tha 
year were destroyed, but his activities during that year were made 
part of history by his friends in later urging him for a seat in th 
National House of Representatives. He was but a youth had jus 
arrived at the age of maturity when he took his seat, but was place 
on important committees. The State was in a deplorable conditioi) 
the treasury was empty, the currency debased. It was, indeed, a tim 
when wisdom and firmness was necessary if the State was to be save 
from anarchy. Young as he was, Macon took an active part in all c 
the proceedings, and there laid the foundation of his future usefulnes 
to the country. 

He was still a member of the General Assembly when peace an 
independence came. Then arose the pressing necessity of defining tl 
position North Carolina was to take in relation to the other coloni* 
and to the Continental Congress. Macon's patriotism was of an intens 
fled local character. It was bounded by the lines of North Carolin 
He was not a man to urge national measures. He favored State coj 
trol of commerce and industry. It was before the days when Hami 
ton set up his theory of protection to American industry in levyii 
customs duties, but Macon was a declared protectionist that is, f< 
North Carolina Industries. From 1782 to 1786 he remained a memto 
of the General Assembly, but little is known of his activities durii 
those years. They were years of political fights for control 


General Greene in his retreat across North Carolina. While he was 
with Greene he was summoned to attend the sessions of the General 
Assembly. This summons he refused to obey on the ground that he 
was in the army, and his presence at the front was necessary. 

General Greene, hearing of this refusal, sent for him and inquired 
as to his reasons for not obeying the call of the Governor. It is re- 
ported that the young soldier retorted that he had on numerous occa- 
sions seen the faces of the British, but never their backs, and he in- 
tended to remain with the army until he did see the backs of the foe. 
This retort pleased the great General, but he argued that Macon could 
do more good to the cause at that time as a member of the General 
Assembly than by carrying a musket; that in the General Assembly 
he could materially assist in securing the supplies so badly needed by 
the army, and also money with which to pay the troops. 

Macon listened to this appeal of his General, left the army, attended 
the General Assembly, and there, by his activities and energies, was 
instrumental in securing the supplies which enabled Greene to turn 
and face Cornwallis. If this is true, it mitigates, if it does not entirely 
wipe out, any strictures as to his remaining quietly at home while 
others were fighting. 

Just what part he played in the General Assembly cannot be defi- 
nitely determined, as the records of the General Assembly for that 
year were destroyed, but his activities during that year were made a 
part of history by his friends in later urging him for a seat in the 
National House of Representatives. He was but a youth had just 
arrived at the age of maturity when he took his seat, but was placed 
on important committees. The State was in a deplorable condition ; 
the treasury was empty, the currency debased. It was, indeed, a time 
when wisdom and firmness was necessary if the State was to be saved 
from anarchy. Young as he was, Macon took an active part in all of 
the proceedings, and there laid the foundation of his future usefulness 
to the country. 

He was still a member of the General Assembly when peace and 
independence came. Then arose the pressing necessity of defining the 
position North Carolina was to take in relation to the other colonies 
and to the Continental Congress. Maeon's patriotism was of an intensi- 
fied local character. It was bounded by the lines of North Carolina. 
He was not a man to urge national measures. He favored State con- 
trol of commerce and industry. It was before the days when Hamil- 
ton set up his theory of protection to American industry in levying 
customs duties, but Macon was a declared protectionist that is, for 
North Carolina industries. From 1782 to 1786 he remained a member 
of the General Assembly, but little is known of his activities during 
those years. They were years of political fights for control. 


It was during those years he married. He made his home on a small 
plantation of some five hundred acres which had been willed to him by 

his father. He owned other lands, and his selection of the plantation 
chosen for his home was one of those inexplicable things so often 
occurring in his life. It was five miles from the nearest neighbor and 
the land was not as productive as others he owned. 

On, this plantation he built a new house, the most notable thing 
about it being the well-arranged wine cellar, which Mr. Macon kept 
always well stocked. He was increasing his wealth by raising tobacco. 
His popularity increased with the years, and in 1786 he was elected a 
delegate to the Continental Congress. This election he declined, giving 
as a reason the insufficient remuneration. It is said by one of his biog- 
raphers that his real reason was his dislike to the continental system- 
IE 1792 Mr. Macon met with a great domestic loss in the death of 
his wife* Their married life had been very happy for twelve years, 
and Mr. Macon keenly felt the loss. He never married again. Of the 
three children born to them, one, the only son, died a few months after 
his mother. 

When the Constitution of 1787 was before the people for ratification, 
Mr. Macon was one of its most earnest opponents. A convention to 
consider the question of ratification commenced its session on the 21st 
of July, 1788. A wordy wrangle took place, the Constitution, appar- 
ently, having few friends. It adjourned on the 2nd of August, after 
passing a resolution that a declaration of rights and certain amend- 
ments ought to be laid before Congress and a convention which might 
be called for amending the Constitution previous to its ratification by 
North Carolina, The resolution was adopted by a vote of 184 ayes to 
84 nays. More than a year later another convention was held, and on 
the 1st of November, 1780, North Carolina ratified the Constitution, 
This was more than eight months after that instrument had gone into 

Mr. Macon was not a member of either of the two conventions on 
ratification, but he gave his influence against ratification. After giv- 
ing 1 his adhesion to the Constitution, Mr* Macon was elected to the 
Second Congress, thus beginning 1 his national life. He was succes- 
sively re-elected twelve times. His public career was to last for a 
period of thirty-seven years without an interruption* It was at the 
formative period of our government. Ilia experience was wholly of a 
provincial character. Of international affairs he knew but little, and 
until his advent into Congress he had cared but little* 

In Congress he arrayed himself among the moat intense of those 
who opposed Nationalism* As had been his attitude when opposing 
the ratification of the Constitution, that of an intense advocate of 
State Rights, so was his attitude in Congress- Hamilton had just suc- 
ceeded in securing* the adoption by the general government of the debts 


of the several colonies, and it was a sore spot to the Southern mem- 
bers. It was then Mr, Macon first took the dislike to New England he 
ever afterward displayed. At his first appearance he took part in the 
discussion as to how the message of the President should be received 
and answered. During the sessions of the First Congress the House 
had proceeded in a body to the residence of the President, and there 
g-ave him a resolution of thanks for his message. In our democratic 
days such a proceeding would be laughed at, but it was a serious thing- 
in the days of Washington. 

Mr. Macon at once took the side of Jefferson in his struggle with 
Hamilton. ^This practically put and kept him in opposition to the 
administration of Washington. He was found among the opponents 
of about everything the administration favored. He opposed Hamil- 
ton's funding policy, the proposed United States Bank, and his system 
of raising a revenue. 

Throughout his career Mr. Macon seemed to have a faculty of stir- 
ring up a hornet's nest. And such was the case in his first distinctive 
act in the House, About the end of February he offered a resolution 
calling on the Secretary of the Treasury to lay before the House a 
statement of the balances remaining unpaid which might be due from 
individuals to the United States previous to the 4th day of March; 
1789, the day the new government began its life, and whether any 
steps had been taken to collect the same, and also a statement of the 
sundry sums of public money which may have been intrusted to indi- 
viduals previous to the 4th of March and had not been accounted for. 

There had been insinuations that the money of the public had been 
used to influence legislation, and to secure the ratification of the Con- 
stitution* No direct charges had been made, but it was an opportunity 
to stab Hamilton, and was seized upon. Hamilton's Mends got unduly 
angry, but the whole thing was soon forgotten. 

Almost from the beginning of Washington's administration there 
was a party in opposition. This party was led by Madison, Macon 
and Giles, Their main object was to drive Hamilton from the Cabinet. 
The opposition to the excise tax on whisky was beginning to manifest 
itself. That tax was peculiarly obnoxious to the people of Western 
Pennsylvania, Western Virginia and the mountains of North Carolina. 
It mattered not what question was under consideration, the opponents 
managed to turn it into an onslaught against Hamilton. In all these 
Macon took an active part, although he did not often address the 

International matters were assuming" a troublesome shape. War 
was raging in every part of Europe, and American rights on the seas 
were ignored by both of the battling sides- A bill was introduced to - 
increase our army and to strengthen our coast fortifications, and to 
enlarge* the navy personnel All this was strenuously opposed by 


Macon, He favored the Increase of the militia of the States, rather 
than to strengthen the regular army. He was consistent throughout 

his whole public career in this opposition to the army and in his faith 
in the militia 

Mr. Macon could not by any means be called a great orator. In fact, 
he was not much given to speechmaking. His activities were largely 

confined to personal efforts. He steadfastly opposed everything that 
looked to him like wasting the people's money- It was during the first 
session of the Sixth Congress that a resolution was offered appropri- 
ating $70,000 for the erection of "a mausoleum of American granite 

and marble, in pyramid form, one hundred feet square at the base, 
and of a proportionate height" in testimony "of the love and gratitude 

of the citizens of the United States to George Washington/' 

Against this resolution Mr, Macon made one of his few set speeches. 
"Can stones show gratitude?" he said, "If the nation wished to show 
gratitude, let them do it by making- a history of the life of Washington 
a school book. Our children then will learn and imitate his virtues. 
This will be rendering the highest tribute to his fame by making it 
the instrument of enlightening the mind and improving the heart/' 

When Jefferson became President he gave Macon full control over 
the federal patronage in North Carolina At first Mr. Macon was a 
steady follower of Jefferson, but his inclination to be in opposition led 
him to oppose some of Jefferson's favorite policies. When Jefferson 
proposed to turn the navy into gunboats, Macon opposed, but a few 
years later, when Madison wanted the navy increased, Macon wanted 
to turn the frigates into gunboats. In the contest in the Mouse be- 
tween Jefferson and Burr, Macon voted for Jefferson on every ballot of 
the North Carolina delegation, while his. colleagues voted for Burr. 

When the Seventh Congress assembled, Mr, Macon was promptly 
elected Speaker of the House, He had been a member of the five pre- 
ceding Congresses, steadfastly growing in influence* Of thi event 
Schouler, in his History of the United States, says: "Macon was a 
man of independent views and upright character, of frugal tendencies 
in public and private, not always in full sympathy with his party, but 
differing dispassionately when he differed at all, and so constantly re- 
elected as in later years to be called the Father of the House-" Ilia 
long 1 service had made him fully acquainted with the history of the 
House, and his mind must have been stored with knowledge of all our 
relations, domestic and foreign* 

Of his life in Washington at that time one of his biographers esayn: 
"He lived with Randolph and Joseph II. Nicholson in a small house 
near the Treasury Department in about such a stylo as it college boy 
with small means now lives." 

The difficulties following the failure to elect a President in 1800 
brought forth an attempt to amend the Constitution* The amendment 


was pending in the House. It had met with strong 1 opposition, and for 
some time it was doubtful whether the necessary two-thirds could be 
rallied in its favor. It came to a vote. Speaker Macon had kept care- 
ful count as the voting: proceeded, and saw that one vote would be 
needed, so he ordered the clerk to call his name. Voting aye gave the 
amendment the required number to pass it. 

Jefferson's first administration was only in its second year when 
Macon began to show signs of dissatisfaction. He was not strongly 
in favor of the purchase of Louisiana, and there was already talk of 
looking somewhere else for his successor. Jefferson himself had de- 
clared against the policy of giving a second term, and it was believed 
he favored Madison. Macon did not like Madison, and looking over 
the field was disposed to favor either Monroe or Gallatin, with the 
odds in favor of Gallatin. Macon had been lukewarm in the movement 
to impeach Judge Chase, and that was a pet measure with the Presi- 
dent. There came up at the same time what are historically known 
as the "Yaasoo Land Frauds/' and coupled with an effort to compro- 
mise them. The chief claimants against the action of the Georgia 
legislature in annulling the grants were New Englanders, and that was 
enough to put Macon in opposition to the proposed settlement. 

When the time approached for the meeting of the Ninth Congress 
it was feared by Macon's friends that he could not be again elected 
Speaker, and it was openly charged that the administration was en- 
deavoring to bring about his defeat. The administration wanted an 
appropriation with which to purchase Florida. Macon, as usual, was 
opposed. Trouble was looming up with Great Britain. A resolution 
was presented suspending all commercial relations with Great Britain. 
Macon opposed. Not long afterward, when New England was peti- 
tioning for a repeal of the non-intercourse act, Macon was a convert 
to non-intercourse. It hurt only New England. 

Jefferson saw the scheming to defeat his renomination, and in case 
he was defeated, to prevent Madison from becoming his successor, 
he set about placating Macon, Randolph and the other discontented 
ones, but Macon clung to his idea of elevating Gallatin, or, failing 
there, to elect Monroe. The effort to defeat Macon for the Speaker- 
ship failed, but his success was by a very narrow margin so narrow, 
indeed, as to convince him he could not again be elected. When the 
question of repealing the Embargo Act came up, Macon was found 
opposing the repeal with all Ms force. He declared himself in favor of 
passing a law for the more rigid enforcement of the embargtx He said, 
among 1 other things : "I am now willing, and always willing, to go as 
far as any member of the House in the protection of the trade which 
fairly grew out of the agriculture and fisheries of the United States. 
I never will consent to risk the best interests of the nation for a trade 
which we can carry on only when Europe is at war." Meaning by this 


the proposition to open to us the trade of the West Indies in return for 
certain concessions, 

Mr, Macon had lost out on the Spoakership, but had not lost his 
popularity with the people of his district. They continued to send him 

to Congress. He began his membership in the House in the Second 
Congress, and continued as a member until the close of the Thirteenth 

Congress, He then went to the Senate, where he served twelve years. 
He remained one of the foremosc figures in the House during all the 
years after he lost the Speakorship. 

The outrages on American commerce were continued, and Mr. Macon 
became an ardent advocate for non-intercourse, but lost hope of effect- 
ing anything 1 which would compel the warring European nations to 
respect the rights of the United States. At one time he introduced 
a proposition to disband our army entirely. He also sought to secure 
legislation for the sale of most of our naval vessels* 

Among his other measures he introduced one to amend the Consti- 
tution so as to forbid the appointment of any Senator or Representa- 
tive to any civil office under the United States during the time for 
which they had been elected to thc^ Senate or House* It had become 
a custom to select for high offices Senators or Representatives, and 
Mr, Macon desired to break up the custom. 

During his long career Mr, Macon had been a pacifist, opposing every 
proposition to enlarge the army, increase the navy, or strengthen our 
forts. He now suddenly changed wound and joined with ("lay, Cal- 
houn and other war members. Ho could not, however, break entirely 
away from his peculiarities. He favored war, warmly favored it, but 
opposed the plan of the administration to prepare for war by increas- 
ing the army- He had a most unwavering* confidence in the militia* 
Before the war he had warmly advocated an invasion of Canada, with 
a definite purpose of final annexation. War came and he opposed the 
invasion. Full of inconsistencies, he began to loae the influence with 
the other members which he had exercised for years. 

While he was still serving in the House, he was elected by the Legis- 
lature to a scat in the Senate. This was an election to fill out an unox- 
pired term, but he was elected later to a full term, and then re-elected. 
Changing to the Senate did not change hia attitude nor his peculiari- 
ties. By this time the finances of the country had gotten into a moat 
deplorable condition. Gold was almost unknown; bankruptcy was 
everywhere. But one way out of thin awful situation could bo devised* 
The Southern and Middle States were flooded with a depreciated cur- 
rency; the States were not responsible for the bank issues they had 
permitted, and there was a deficit in the national treasury, 

The Secretary of the Treasury proposed to Congress the establish- 
ment of a national bank* In this he closely followed the plan offered 
by Gallatin when he was at the head of the Treasury Department* It 


was closely similar to the original plan of Hamilton. Macon was obsti- 
nate in his opposition, basing it upon what he claimed was its uncon- 
stitutionally. He offered no plan of his own to relieve the situation. 
He simply opposed, 

The bank was established, and then Clay once more brought forward 
his internal improvement scheme. As usual, Macon opposed. Public 
confidence had been restored by the bank ; the country had a uniform 
and stable currency and prosperity was seen everywhere. Instead of 
a deficit, there was now a surplus in the treasury, and Clay proposed 
to use that surplus in the construction of canals and roads. Macon 
proposed to use the surplus In discharging the national debt The bill 
passed, but the President vetoed it. 

Monroe followed Madison as Chief Executive. He was a believer 
in the one-party idea, and desired to unite the country in one party 
supporting the administration. In this idea he was joined by Macon. 
For a time they were apparently successful in this and produced what 
is known as the Era of Good Feeling. 

Another serious question was looming before the people the ques- 
tion that agitated the country until settled by the Civil War that of 
slavery* Macon was one of the first to see this. He believed that the 
internal improvement scheme would eventually bring about the eman- 
cipation of the slaves by national legislation. On this he harped in 
his private correspondence and in his talks in the Senate. In a letter 
to one of his friends he said : "The South Country will be ruined. We 
have abolition, colonization, Bible and peace societies; their conten- 
tions cannot be known, but the character and spirit of one may, with- 
out injustice, be considered that of all it is a character and spirit of 
perseverance bordering on enthusiasm. And if the general govern- 
ment shall continue to stretch their powers, these societies will un- 
doubtedly push them to try the question of emancipation. . * . The 
States having no slaves may not feel as strongly as the States having 
slaves about stretching the Constitution, because no such interest is to 
be touched by it. The camp that is not always guarded may be sur- 
prised ; and the people who do not watch their rulers may be enslaved. 
Too much confidence is the ruin of both/' 

Thus early Mr- Macon saw the coming struggle, but he placed the sin 
wholly at the door of the Northern abolitionists without looking to 
those in the South who would push a claim to extend slavery every- 
where. The fight loomed up when Missouri demanded admission to the 
Union. That question was settled for the time by the adoption of 
what is known as the Missouri Compromise. When that compromise 
was pending in the Senate, Mr. Macon put himself in opposition to it. 
He said : "All the States now have equal rights and all are content. 
Deprive one of the least right which it now enjoys in common with the 
others and it will no longer be content. ... All the new States have 


the same rights that the old have ; why make Missouri an exception ? 
Why depart in her case from the #reat American principle that the 
people can govern themselves ? All the country west of the Mississippi 
was acquired by the same ti % eaty, and on the same terms, and the peo- 
ple in every part have the same rights." 

Of his attitude on this question one writer says : "Hacon opposed 
the bill in all its phases to the last. It was to him what the Alien and 
Sedition Laws of 1798 had been -violation of the Constitution and a 
far more dangerous violatioti than had ever before been sanctioned." 

The presidential campaign of 1824 was a memorable one* When it 
opened three members of Monroe's cabinet Adams, Crawford and 
Calhoun were candidates, with Andrew Jackson also in the race, 
Crawford received the caucus nomination, but the race was between 
Adams and Jackson. Macon was warmly n supporter of Crawford. 
His disappointment when the failing health of Crawford put him 
practically out of the running was very great. He then had to ehooso 
between Clay and Jackson, for Adams was from Now England and 
nothing from that part of the country could command any liking from 
the irate Southerner. 

He did not like Jackson. In fact he had no love for Clay, but Jack- 
son's arbitrary action in Florida was too strong for him. Oalhoun, 
with him, was not to be considered. Calhoun had voted for the new 
bank system, and was a protectionist so far as customs duties were 
concerned, Notwithstanding his opposition to the Hero of the Hermit- 
age, North Carolina cast her full vote for him. Macon had lost much 
of his power and influence in the State* 

When the Senate met in 1825 Mr, Macon recorded his latft triumph. 
He was elected President pro tempore of that body* This triumph was 
not secured without a hard struggle on the part of his friends. It 
required seventeen ballots to elect 

As the presidential campaign of 1828 approached Mr* Macon was in 
a quandry. He disliked Adams, and was fearful of Jnckfton. He said 
in one of his letters : "It is only a scuffle for the Presidency, rather a 
scuffle for men than for principles, but this ought not prevent our try- 
ing to get the one we prefer, hence I go for Jackson." 

Mr. Macon now retired from the Senate, sending in hla resignation 
before the assembling of Congress in December, 1828, Of this retire- 
ment Mr. Benton, in his "Thirty Years' View/' says : 

Philosophic in Ills temperament and wiBO in MB conduct, governed in all hi* 
actions by reawn and judgment, and deeply imbued with Bible imatfcti, thin virtu* 
OUH and patriotic man, whom Mr, Jefferson called "The last of the RomunH," had 
long fixed tho term of MB political existence at tho age at which the FHnlmtat IWH 
signs for tho limit of manly life. He touched that age in 1828; and, truo to all 
hitt purpose^ ha wan true to hi resolve m thin, and executed It with tho qutetuda 
and indiferenee of an ordinary transaction. He WEH in th rnidclto of a third 
term, nenatorial term, and in the full i>oB8<sion of ail hit* faculties of mind and 


body; but his time for retirement had come the time fixed by himself; but fixed 
upon conviction and for well-considered reasons, and inexorable to him as if fixed 
by fate. To the friends who urged him to remain to the end of his term, and who 
insisted his mind was as good as ever, he would not listen, but kept to his declared 
intention to resign. He lived nine years after his retirement in the enjoyment of 
the high respect of all who knew him, and died regretted by the people of his own 
State and of the nation at large. 

While retiring from active official life Mr. Macon did not retire 
wholly from active participation in political affairs. He took an active 
interest in the election of Mr. Van Buren in 1886- He lived as a pri- 
vate citizen of ample means, entertaining his hosts of friends in the 
true Southern style. His home became a sort of Mecca in upper North 
Carolina. Every one visited him without ceremony. Death came to 
him suddenly. His eccentricity was displayed in the provision he made 
for his burial. He was buried on a barren knoll, by the side of his wife 
and son. The graves, in accordance with his directions, were covered 
with a heap of flint rock, 

Mr. Macon was popular as Speaker of the House. He presided with 
dignity and ruled with impartiality* There is no better summary of 
his character than that given by Mr, Benton in his "Thirty Years' 

In almost all strongly-marked characters there is usually some incident or sign, 
in early life, which shows that character, and reveals to the close observer the type 
of the future man. So it was with Mr. Macon* His firmness, his patriotism, his 
self -denial, his devotion to duty and disregard of office and emolument; his mod- 
esty, integrity and self-control, and subjection of conduct to the convictions of 
reason and the dictates of virtue, all so steadily exemplified in a long life, were all 
hown from the early age of eighteen, in the miniature representation of indi- 
vidual action, and only confirmed in the subsequent public exhibitions of a long, 
beautiful and exalted career. 


T OSBPH BEADLEY VARNUM Speaker of the House of Representatives 
J in the Tenth and Eleventh Congresses. Born in Dracutt, Massa- 
chusetts, January 29, 1750- Son of Samuel Varnum, Limited educa- 
tion. Married Mary Butler. Died in Dracutt, September 21, 1821. 

Joseph Bradley Varnum was one of the patriots of the Revolution, 
one of the builders of our present form of government. He served in 
the army that won our independence; in the legislature of his State, 
which fed the fires of patriotism and kept alive the spirit of liberty in 
the hearts of the people; in the National House of Representatives, 
where he was twice elected Speaker, and in the United States Senate, 
where he served one term as president pro tern. Then served the peo- 
ple of Massachusetts as Chief Justice of one of its major courts. In 
every place he served well. 

Mr. Varnum was born, lived and died on the farm he received from 
his father. His father's means were limited, especially when Joseph 


was a boy and he could not give him the educational advantages the 
youth longed for. From a very early period young Varnum had a 
definite purpose of life, and he did what he could with the meager 
opportunities at his command to fit himself for the position he aimed 
to attain. While spending his days in work on the farm, he gave a 
large part of the nights to study and reading, much of it by the light 
of the fire on the hearth. 

He was said to be a thoughtful, studious boy, as he was afterward a 
thoughtful, sober-minded man. Even in the early days of our Republic 
men in public life were often the victim of the scandal-monger, the 
"yellow journalist," the "mud-slin#er," but Joseph Varnum led such a 
life of probity and political virtue that no attacks were ever made upon 
him. When he was twenty-two years of age he took to himself a wife, 
with whom he lived in harmony for forty-eight years. On hia mar- 
riage his father gave him a farm of 160 acres. Only a small portion 
of the farm was under cultivation, but this the young man, aided and 
encouraged by his wife, noon remedied. It is said of him that he WEB 
a practical and successful farmer. In a letter to his son, written m 
1797, from Philadelphia, where he was serving in Congress, he thus 
speaks of the life of a farmer; 

In order to Succeed In any profeamon or Occupation IB life it la highly neco*t~ 
sary and important to pay strict attention to the duties of It, and at nil uch ttmea, 
as the nature thereof shall require* To be a Farmer, a conttftttent Farmer, huppy 

in the Occupation, and reapoetabte in Society, it i# necessary to vim TDatly In the 
Morning 1 , Pay Speedy attention to all necessary requirement^ and take advantage 

of the Labours of the day, by performing the moat arduouM part, before the Sun 
arises to its Meridian Splendor, Th strictest attention munt ha paid to the 
Buildings, Fences, Stock of Cattle, husbandry, tools, and every RpeeteH of produce. 
AH necessary repairs mu8t be Early made. No part of the produce must b0 suf- 
fered to be wanted or lent for want of care, Thu the Farmer beeomoM wealthy, 
respectable and happy* 

His first service for the public was in the military branch. He early 
displayed a taste for military life, and it is recorded of him that when 
he was but sixteen years of age he visited Boston day by day to watch 
the drilling and maneuvering of the British troops to that port 
to enforce submission to the laws of parliament* He put the informa- 
tion thus obtained to good use when in the army of independence*. 

Tho Boston massacre aroused the good patriots of Dracutt, and two 
companies of militia were or# anized* Of ono of these young Varnum 
was made Captain* He drilled it after the manner he had learned 
while watching the British troops in Boston, It was ready when the 
Provincial Congress in 1774 called for the enlistment of Minute Men* 
The company reorganized under that call, electing new officers, but 
retaining Varnum as instructor. In this capacity he continued to 
serve until the commencement of the Revolutionary War. He marched 
with the company to Lexington and took part in that famous battle, 

MAOON, North Oumlina 
Seventh, Kig'hth and Ninth 

u H. VAUNUM, Massarhusctis 
Totith and KI(v<Mth (loniiVrc'HSfs 

IlKNHY Cll^AY, K<4ilUcky 
Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourioonth, 
Kift<< i nlh, Sixioonth und Kigh- 

OIJKVKH, South (lurolinn 
Th i rtHHith 


In January, 1776, the company was again reorganized and Varnum 
was chosen Captain. He held command of the company until April, 

In the latter part of 1777 Captain Varnum and his company were 
sent to the Northern army, where they witnessed the surrender of 
Burgoyne, a surrender that marked the turning point in the war for 
independence. The next year he was sent to Rhode Island to join 
General Sullivan. The war for independence was won, but it left an 
aftermath of discontent throughout all New England. The people had 
been impoverished by the war, taxes were necessarily heavy, and the 
States had not been able to pay their debts. In Massachusetts the dis- 
content rose to actual rebellion, led by one Daniel Shays. 

The malcontents gathered in large numbers, marched from one 
county town to another to prevent the sittings of the courts, in order 
to prevent the trial and determination of suits where the judgments 
would be for the payment of money. Affairs at last grew so desperate 
that the Governor called out the militia and placed it under the com- 
mand of General Lincoln. At that time Mr, Varnum was a member of 
the State Senate, He left his seat in the Senate and placed himself 
at the head of his company, marched to aid General Lincoln. It was 
in the depths of a severe winter and the troops suffered greatly. There 
is extant a letter written to Captain Varnum by General Lincoln which 
may be of interest to the reader. It is dated at Pittsfield, on the 12th 
of February, 1787: 

Sir: The business for which troops were ordered out seems to be pretty much 
over. Your services will be important, and are much needed in the General Court, 
It is, therefore, my wish that you assign your Company to ye next officer and 
meet the assembly as soon as possible. Your example in turning- out on this occa- 
sion meets the esteem of your Country and entitles you to its thanks* Mine you 
have most sincerely. 

With Great esteem I have the honor to be your ob't 

Servant, B. Lincoln. 

Mr. Vernum remained connected with the militia during the rest of 
his life. In 1787 he was made a Colonel, in 1802 a Brigadier-General, 
and in 1805 a Major-GeneraL He retained his official relation with the 
militia while serving in Congress, first as a member of the House of 
Representatives, and then of the Senate, It was a matter of pride 
with him* 

His civil service began in 1781. In that year he was elected a mem- 
ber of the State Legislature, He served in that body for four years, 
when he was elected a member of the State Senate. He served in that 
body until he was elected a member of the Fourth Congress. He was 
re-elected seven times, serving in all sixteen years. He was Speaker 
in the Tenth and Eleventh Congresses. 


In his first election he had as his competitor Samuel Dexter, who 

afterward was Secretary of the Treasury during a part of the admin- 
istration of the elder Adams, Mr- Dexter WM a distinguished lawyer, 
and the acknowledged leader of the Federalists in Massachusetts. One 
of the issues before the people was the ratification of the Jay Treaty, 
a treaty that was exceedingly obnoxious to the people of the Bay State, 
In the election Mr, Varnum received a small majority, and an effort 
was made to prevent his taking his seat in the House, Several peti- 
tions were presented to the House protesting against his seating* It 
was alleged that he was one of the Selectmen of Dracutt and had 
allowed certain votes to be received and counted which were illegal 
An investigation followed. The investigation was a complete vindica- 
tion of Mr. Varnum* 

Mr. Varnum entered the House at a time when politics was raging 
at fever heat. Jefferson was leading the National Republicans, but 
there was strife in the ranks- It was the last Congress while Wash- 
ington was President* The Hamiltonian idea of constructive or im- 
plied powers in the Constitution had aroused great dissatisfaction, 
especially in the South, and Jefferson was loading the opposition in an 
effort to overthrow the adherents to that doctrine. In the House 
Mr. Vernum arrayed himself with the followers of Jefferson, and Ixv 
came one of the leaders of the New England wing of that party, 

One of the questions bothering Congress at that time waft that of 
direct taxes* The National Republicans opposed that system, holding 
that the revenue should be raised from customs duties and excise taxes 
alone- Very early in his service he made an elaborate speech on the 
tax questions* Ho saidi; "I am clearly of the opinion that any sums 
needed for defraying the expenses of the Government or for the pay* 
ment of its debts ought to be raised by duties on imposts and excises. 
That is a method of taxation with which we are acquainted and which 
experience has taught us the operation of under the Government. 
There are almost insuperable objections to a direct tax, and until all 
the objects of indirect taxation are exhausted, I presume the Govern- 
ment will never adopt one/' 

He took an active part in nearly all the debates in the Houso, nnd 
many questions were up for debate. The country had not altogether 
become used to the restrictions of the Constitution, and the people 
were divided* One part hold to a broad construction in the interest of 
the central government, while the other part demanded that it Im con- 
strued with the greatest strictness, confining the central government 
to those powers only which were directly and specifically given. Mr. 
Varnum joined with the Southern strict constructionista. 

It will be recalled that during the last days of the administration 
of President John Adams a Mil was passed largely increasing the 
numbor of Federal Judges* This was an abomination in the eyes of 


the Republicans, and its repeal was strenuously urged. Mr. Varnum 
made a most elaborate speech on the question as to the rigfit of one 
Congress under the Constitution to repeal an act of a prior Congress 
establishing courts. 

Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana brought another troublesome 
question, one to which he could not command the full support of his 
own party. It was proposed to erect Louisiana into two territories, 
the bill giving the President the selection of the legislature and coun- 
cil. Against this proposition Mr. Varnum quickly and emphatically 
placed himself. He denounced the whole system in the strongest 
terms and demanded an elective legislature. He took the strongest 
grounds on the rights of the people to govern themselves and to select 
their own officials. He said: "I am of the opinion that the bill pro- 
vides such a kind of government as never has been known in the 
United States. Sound policy, no less than justice, dictates the pro- 
priety of making provision for the election of a legislature by the 
people. There is not only the common obligation of justice imposed 
on Congress to do this, but it is bound to do it by treaty* This treaty 
(with Prance) makes it obligatory to admit the inhabitants of Louisi- 
ana as soon as possible to the enjoyment of all the rights, privileges, 
advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States,'* 

He also made an elaborate speech on the militia system of the coun- 
try during the discussion of a bill providing for dividing the militia 
into two classes. To this he strongly objected. "The bill," he said, 
"embodies a system which has many times been before the House for 
consideration, and has always been found impolitic to adopt. I hope 
at this critical juncture that we shall not wholly disorganize the militia 
because some persons do not choose to submit to military discipline 
and the subordination essential thereto. I am ready to assert that if 
the system is adopted, that our militia will be broken up, as the States 
have laws now in force in conformity with the Act of 1792 for the 
organization of the militia, and under such laws are ready to act." 
The bill was killed. 

During the sessions of the Eighth and Ninth Congresses the Repub- 
licans were divided into two factions. Nathaniel Macon, who was 
Speaker, insisted upon appointing John Randolph as Chairman of the 
Committee on Ways and Means. Randolph was arbitrary and dicta- 
torial and bitter. He had made a number of enemies by his bitterness 
in debate, and his want of courtesy in speaking of other members. 
Speaker Macon was strongly urged by his friends in .the Ninth Con- 
gress to .substitute some other member of the party in place of Mr. 
Randolph at the head of that committee, but he stood by his friend 
from Virginia, 

Before the end of that Congress it became very evident he could not 
again be elevated to the Speakership, but he remained as a candidate. 


The opposition brought out Mr. Varnum, who was elected by a vote 
of 65 against 45 for Macon. He did not, however, command the whole 
strength of the opposition to Macon, for there were nine scattering 

votes. On taking the chair, he overturned Randolph as Chairman of 
the Committee of Ways and Means, He appointed to that place George 

W. Campbell, of Tennessee, a most unfortunate appointment, and one 
that came near costing Mr, Varnum the Speakership in the next Con- 
gress, He was successful in being re-elected, but by only one vote. 
As a Speaker, Mr, Varnum presided with dignity and firmness, but 
did not escape charges of partiality on a number of occasions. 

In 1811 Mr. Varnum was sent to the Senate. He was elected in 
place of Timothy Pickering. Mr. Pickering had been, first, Postmaster 
General in the administration of President Washington, and then his 
Secretary of State, This office lie retained under President John 
Adams until that President summarily dismissed him on a charge of 
disloyalty to his chief. lie was then sent to the Senate. As a Senator 
he had been a strong Federalist, sustaining 1 all the measures* of that 

In the Senate Mr, Varnum was made Chairman of the Committee 
on Military Affairs, a very important committee at that juncture. 
Difficulties with Great Britain were rapidly driving the United States 
toward war with that country* He was one of those who urged the 
administration to prepare for war. It was during this season that the 
Giles militia bill was introduced against which Senator Varnum made 
his elaborate speech. Of this John Adams said : "Of all the supix>rten* 
of the war Senator Varnum was one of the steadiest. He wan also 
the highest authority in the Senate on matters pertaining to the 
militia. 1 ' 

He objected to the bill authorizing an army of 80,000 men for the 
following, among other, reasons : "Although the bill purported to call 
for an army of 80,000 men, yet in some of the subsequent sections of 
it we find that instead of realizing the pleasing prospect of seeing an 
ample force in the field, said force is to be reduced indefinitely, which 
is contradictory in terms, inconsistency in principle and uncertainty 
in effect, cannot fall to produce mortification and chagrin/ 1 

Ho served in the Senate until 1817. During a part of that service 
he was President pro tempore At all times he sustained the Presi- 
dent in the prosecution of the war with Great Britain. This cost him 
much of his strength with the people of Massachusetts, for the war 
was not popular there Ilia failure of re-election to the United States 
Senate did not terminate his public life, for the people of hta county 
immediately sent him to represent them in the State Senate. 

Ifis decease was sudden, lie was out riding one day, and, feeling 1 
indisposed, returned to his home. He called his family around him and 
notifying them he felt the end approaching, ga?e directions as to his 
funeral, selecting the pallbearers. 



HENRY CLAY Speaker of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fif- 
teenth, Sixteenth and Eighteenth Congresses. Born April 12, 
1777, in Hanover County, Virginia. Son of Rev. John and Mary (Hud- 
son) Clay. Educated in the country schools. Married, April 16, 1799, 
Miss Lucretia Hart. Died In Washington, District of Columbia, June 
29, 1852. 

In the political history of the United States Henry Clay occupies a 
great space. From 1806, when he was sent to the United States Senate 
to fill the unexpired term of Senator Adair, who had resigned, until his 
death, nearly half a century later, he was continually in the public eye. 

Great as an orator, great as a statesman, great as a party leader, 
and superlatively great in his Americanism, he stood for more than 
forty years without a successful rival in either capacity. He died 
without reaching the highest point of his ambition the presidency 
yet no statesman of his day, nor since, could muster so great a follow- 
ing among the people. "Gallant Harry of the West" was the idol of 
the people, and the country mourned at his death. 

He exerted a much larger share in shaping national legislation than 
any statesman of his time. As one writer says: "He exercised this 
influence not as an originator of systems, but as an arranger, and as a 
leader of political forces." 

In this sketch of his life no attempt will be made to give the details 
in chronological sequence, but, for the convenience of the general 
reader, the topical order will be followed. His activities on several of 
the great issues of his time were scattered over a long series of years, 
and it would be difficult for the general reader to follow them if given 
in chronological order. 

Henry Clay grew into greatness through his own natural talents, 
having been aided but little by fortuitous circumstances in his early 
life. In that respect, however, he was more fortunate than some other 
Americans who achieved greatness. 

Of him Carl Schurz says: "Few public characters in American 
history have been the subjects of more heated controversy than Henry 
Clay. There was no measure of detraction and obloquy to which, dur- 
ing his lifetime, his opponents would not resort, and there seemed to 
be no limit to the admiration and attachment of his friends. While his 
enemies denounced him as a pretender and selfish intriguer in politics, 
and m abandoned profligate in private life, supporters unhesitatingly 
placed Mm first among the sages of the period, and, by way of def ense^ 
sometimes even among the saints." 

His youth was a struggle with poverty. His father was a Baptisl 
clergyman of high standing in his community, serving a small and pooi 
congregation* As were about all pastors in those days, he was poor 


The people were poor, and pastors served for little wage. His mother 

was a woman of exemplary qualities as a wife and mother. Henry 
was the fifth of seven children born to his parents. When Henry was 

four years old his father died, leaving wife and children nothing save 
a good name. Worthy inheritance as it was, it did not save them from 
a hard struggle to secure food, clothing, and education, 
What schooling Henry received was obtained in a country school, 

and that was irregular in time. When not at school the young lad had 
to work to aid in, supporting the family. The neighborhood in which 
he lived was locally known as "The Slashes." A part of the work 

which fell to his lot was bringing flour or meal from the mill several 
miles away. To do this he often had to ride to the mill, with a rope 
for a bridle, and a sack of flour or meal for a saddle. This gave him 
the name of "Mill Boy of the Slashes," a name his admirers in later 

years were proud to call him. 

A few years after the death of his father his mother took a second 
husband and the family removed to Richmond* The young lad found 
a kind and appreciative friend in his stepfather* He at first found a 
place for the boy as a clerk in one of the stores in Richmond. He was 
early impressed with the brightness of his stepson, and sought ways to 
advance him, finally succeeding in securing him a place in the office of 
the Clerk of the High Court of Chancery. While holding that position 
Henry was fortunate enough to make a friend of the great Chancellor 
Wythe, The Chancellor was a kind friend, indeed. He took young 
Clay into his office and there encouraged him to study law. He served 
four years as the Chancellor's amanuensis, studying law in his spare 
time. When fitted he was admitted to the bar. 

He removed to Kentucky, deeming that State as furnishing a more 
promising opening for a young lawyer. He chose Lexington as his 
location, and there put out his sign as an "Attorney at Law*** His 
manners were genial and he soon won clients, being especially success- 
ful in criminal cases. In Kentucky land titles were in a badly mixed 
condition, and furnished most of the litigation before the courts* 
Young Clay had his share of this litigation, which was much more sat- 
isfactory in, a financial way than the criminal practice. He was a good 
but never a groat lawyer. He lacked the studious habits required to 
produce a great lawyer, 

Kentucky was famous for its eloquent orators, and, young iw he 
was. Clay demonstrated that he was entitled to stand among the fore- 
most in eloquence. It was not long until his popularity with the citi- 
sBons* of Lexington caused them to elect him a member of the State Leg- 
islature. There he was in his element* His established reputation aa 
an orator made him at once prominent* One writer thua described 
him: "A tall stature; not a handsome face, but a pleasing, winning 
expression, a voice of which some of his contemporaries say that it was 


the finest musical instrument they ever heard; an eloquence always 
melodious and in turn majestic, fierce, playful, insinuating, irresistibly 
appealing to all the feelings of human nature, aided by a gesticulation 
at the same time natural, vivid, large, and powerful ; a certain mag- 
nificent grandeur of bearing in public action, and an easy familiarity, 
a never failing courtesy in private . . . and a noble, generous heart." 

Kentucky was at that time divided on the question of providing for 
eventual emancipation of slaves. An amendment to the State consti- 
tution was pending before the legislature. Clay became an ardent 
advocate of the proposed amendment. All through his after life, 
though an owner of slaves, he expressed himself as opposed to the 

It was while he was a member of the legislature he became involved 
with Aaron Burr, an involvement that his enemies brought up against 
him many times in his after life. Burr had been arrested for treason- 
able practices and applied to Clay to act as his attorney. Clay believed 
him innocent, but caused Burr to give him a written declaration that 
he contemplated nothing against the peace of the country. This mat- 
tered not to his political enemies and they kept bringing it forward 
against him every time he was a candidate for President. 

His popularity with the people of Kentucky was evidenced in 1806 
when the legislature elected him to the United States Senate to fill an 
unexpired term, although he had not quite reached the age of eligibility 
to that high place. He took his seat in the Serate on the 29th of 
December that year, and almost at once became one of the leaders of 
that body. As a rule a new member of the Senate has to abide his time 
and wait while older members discuss matters of legislation. Not so 
with Mr, Clay. He at once threw himself heart and soul into the work, 
taking an active part in all the debates. It was during this first service 
in the national legislature he began his work for a system of internal 
improvement under the general government. It was a pet theory with 
him in all his later service. President Jefferson had suggested the use 
of the surplus in the treasury in building roads, improving waterways, 
etc. Mr, Clay ardently favored the suggestion, and during his short 
service in the Senate made a number of speeches in its support. 

On his return to Kentucky at the close of his term he was again sent 
to the State House of Representatives, of which body he was made 
Speaker, It was during this session that he first announced his sup- 
port to the protection theory in levying customs duties that had been 
one of Hamilton's favorite policies. He introduced a resolution pledg- 
ing the members of the legislature to wear only such clothes as were 
the product of American industries. This was another policy to which 
he stood steadfast during his whole political life. 

In 1808 there was another vacancy in Kentucky's representation iw 
the United States Senate, and Mr- Clay was elected to fill out the term, 


President Madison was just then being troubled over the West Florida 
matter. An independent government had been set up in West Florida 

and had applied to the United States for recognition. ln^ response 
President Madison issued a proclamation asserting the claim of the 
United States to West Florida, and announcing that possession should 
be taken of the territory by the United States, A bill was introduced 
in the Senate providing that the Territory of Orleans, one of the two 
territories into which Louisiana had been divided, should extend to 
the river Perdido, 

This brought angry opposition from the Federalists. Clay took up 
the defense of the administration* He made several speeches of great 
power, answering the objections of the opponents of the measure, and 
turning them into ridicule. One of the speakers of the opposition was 
Senator Horsey, of Delaware, In one of his speeches he dwelt at 
length upon the displeasure Great Britain would exhibit. In his reply 
Mr. Clay thus spoke : 

The ittrotlonum rcrnindM UM that Groat Britain, the ally of Spain, may bo obli#d 

by her connection with that country to take part with her agamnt UH, and to 
consider the measure of the President an justifying an appeal to arm. Sir, m the 
time never to arrive when we may manage our own affairs without the fcinr of 
insulting his Britannic majesty? Is the rod of British power to be forever UH- 
pended over out head? Doea Congress put an embargo to Bholtor our rightful 
commerce against the piratical depredations committed upon it on the ocean? We 
are immediately warned of the indignation of offended England. 1 u law of non- 
mtoreourso proposed? The whole navy of the haughty miHtreHH of the wi in made 
to thunder into our earn DoeH the President refute to continue a corr<w|><mctone 
with a minister who violate the decorum belonging to hi* diplomatic dwwwtor by 
giving and repeating a deliberate affront to the whole nation? Wo arc nwUintly 
menaced with the chaHtiHemont which English pride will not fail to Inflict Whether 
we assert our righta by sea, or attempt their maintenance by land whitherH<Ksvor 
we turn ourselvoH, this phantom Inccawantly puraues us* Already It ha too much 
influence on the councils of the nation. Mr. Proddont, 1 mont Hincoroly dcwim 
peace and amity with England; 1 even prefer an adjustment of difltoronceH with 
her before one with any other nation. But if he porlflt in a denial of JUMtiee 
to us, or if Hho avails hernelf of the occupation of Wort Florida to commence war 
upon u, I trust and hope that all hearts will unite In a bold and vigorous vindica- 
tion of our rights, 

From this debate ho emne forth with an increased reputation UH am 
orator, and ns an American. His leadership of the younger element in 
American politics was assured, it was during this session of the 
Senate he took such vehement stand ngainst granting a rechartar to 
the Bank of the United States that a few years later caused him much 
trouble to reconcile with the position he took under Jackson's* admin in- 
tmUon. Hi** apeeeh oppoaing the rccharter has always botw looked 
upon by anti-bank mom ns one of the strongest that could bo made* Ha 
Horved his term in the Senate and returned to Kentucky with a 
heightened reputation as an orator and a statesman. 


In 1811 he was elected a member of the National House of Repre- 
sentatives. He enjoyed the unique distinction of being elected Speaker 
of the House on the first day he took a seat as a member of that body. 
His reputation was national, and as a younger element had obtained 
control in the House it was natural their choice for Speaker should 
fall on Clay. He was the undisputed leader of the younger element. 

Our differences with England had been growing* between the years 
when he left the Senate and the time he became a member of the 
House. The United States was a peace-loving nation, and Mr. Madison 
was a peace-loving President. It is not necessary here to trace the 
causes which brought war between us and Great Britain. They are 
known to every student of American history. President Madison had 
contented himself with filing complaints against the actions of the 
British navy, but shunned everything that might lead to war. The 
country was feeling this humiliation. Madison, while Secretary of 
State in the Jefferson administration, had made several appeals to the 
right and fairness of the British Government, but they availed noth- 
ing. Embargo and non-intercourse had been resorted to without ef- 
fect. Madison became President ; still nothing was done but talk. The 
country had grown tired of the talk and of the submission to the acts 
of Great Britain. It was at this time that Clay was elected to the 
House. He was full of fire and of resentment against England. With 
a few others of the younger members he began at once the work of 
forcing war. Madison in one of his messages had suggested that the 
country put itself in preparation to defend its honor from further 
aggressions. He ardently wished and hoped to prevent an armed 
conflict, and his suggestion was only timidly made. He was not willing 
to take the initiative, but if Congress decreed war, he would accept its 
dictum. He wanted to be pushed, and Clay and those who stood with 
him were willing to push. 

Early in the session Clay began urging Congress to put at the dis- 
posal of the President a much larger force than he had asked for, both 
for the army on land, and the navy on the seas. He spoke of war with 
Great Britain as sure to come, and urged the necessity of being pre- 
pared for it. In one of his speeches he used the following words in 
reply to a question as to what we could gain by war : "What are we 
to lose by peace? Commerce, character, a nation's best treasure, 
honor/' It was with such ringing words he urged Congress to act. 
The result was that Congress authorized a large increase of the regu- 
lar army, and also gave the President authority to accept 50,000 volun- 
teers. A bill was introduced providing for the building of ten new 
frigates. Clay asked the pertinent question, "Because we cannot pro- 
vide against every danger shall be provide against none?" 

The war spirit rapidly arose throughout the country, and manifested 
itself by passing resolutions and memorializing Congress. Madison 


endeavored to escape an appeal to arms by recommending an embargo 
of sixty days. This was increased to ninety days by Congress. Clay 
was not satisfied with such half-way measures, and vehemently de- 
clared the embargo meant war, and nothing but war, "War," he said, 

"after all was not so terrible a thing. There was no terror in it except 
its novelty ." 

President Madison at last yielded to the spirit of Young America 

and sent to Congress a message recommending war. War having been 
declared, Clay went through the country arousing- the enthusiasm of 
the people. It was reported at the time that President Madison seri- 
ously contemplated making Clay commandcr-in-chief in the field. As 

lamely as the war was conducted on land at first, such an appointment 
would have been a serious mistake and it was well for the country 

that the President listened to the earnest objections of Gallatm. 

During the war Clay was the animating figure. He kept the en- 
thusiasm of the people at fever heat, and held up the courage of Madi- 
son. The President was a lover of peace. He was temperamentally 
unfit for conducting the affairs of the government during a war. His 
eyes ever turned toward finding an opportunity to end the war. At 
last the opportunity came, when Great Britain signified a willingness 
to consider treating for peace. When that opportunity came the Presi- 
dent eagerly appointed Commissioners to treat. Clay being one of them* 
On receiving the appointment as Commissioner he at once resigned the 
Speakership and his seat in the House, Clay was a poor selection for 
such a mission* He was impulsive, impetuous, hating all the traditional 
delays of diplomacy* At every halt in the negotiations he wanted to 
break off altogether. There were frequent clashes between him and 
John Qumcy Adams, another member of the Commission. Gallatin 
was the peace-maker and it required all his skill and patience to 
prevent open breaks* 

It was s weary time for a man of Clay's impetuous disposition, yet 
he more clearly saw through the schemes of the British Commissioners 
than did either of his colleagues. There seemed to be a constant fear 
on the part of the Americans that the British Commissioners would 
break oft* but Clay repeatedly declared that Great Britain waa in such 
a strait that peace was an imperative necessity, and that if the Ameri- 
cans would stand for abolition of the claim of right of search and 
aoteuro, Britain would give way, and thus tho cauae that brought on 
the war would be removed. Of the impetuous temper of Clay at this 
time, Carl Schura, in hi "Life of Clay/ 1 says; 

The complaint 4bout Clay*s ill-tempered moocta were undoubtedly 
Always somewhat inclined to be dictatorial and impatient of opposition, h* had 
on tills occasion egpocial raanon for being ill at WHO, He, m<m\ than any otm ftlaa, 

had mad^ tine war. He had advised the Invasion of Canada, and predicted an 
ouny conquest Ho had confidently Hpokcn of dictating a peace at Qw/te or Hull- 


fax. He had, after thei withdrawal of the Orders in Council, insisted that the 
matter of impressment alone was sufficient reason for war. He had pledged the 
honor of the country for the maintenance of the cause of "Free Trade and Sea- 
men's Rights." Now to snake a peace which was not only not dictated at Quebec 
or Halifax, but looked rather like a generous concession on the part of a victorious 
enemy; to make peace while disgraceful defeats of the American arms, among 
them the capture of the seat of government and the burning of the Capitol, were 
still unavenged, and while after some brilliant exploits the American navy was 
virtually shut up in American harbors by British blockading squadrons ; a peace 
based upon the status cunt bellwn, without even an allusion to the things that 
had been fought for in one word, a peace which, whatever its merits and 
advantages, was certainly not a glorious peace this could not but be an almost 
unendurable thought to the man who, above all things, wanted to be proud of his 

Clay consistently adhered to the idea of including impressments in 
the treaty. Of this Adams wrote : "Mr, Clay came to my chamber, 
and on reading the British note manifested some chagrin. He still 
talked of breaking off the negotiations, but he did not exactly disclose 
the active cause of his ill-humor, which was, however, easily seen 
through. In the evening we met, and Mr. Clay continued in his dis- 
contented humor. He was for taking time to deliberate upon the Brit- 
ish note. He was for meeting about it tomorrow morning. He was 
sounding all around for support in making another stand for resist- 
ance at this stage of the business. At last he turned to me and asked 
me whether I would not join him now and break off the negotiation. I 
told him no, there was nothing now to break off on/* 

Clay then reluctantly agreed to sign the treaty. He was not satis- 
fied. A year later on the floor of the House he said : 

I gave a vote for the declaration of war. I exerted all the little influence and 
talent I could command to make the war. The war was made. It is terminated. 
And I declare, with perfect sincerity, if it had been permitted to me to lift the 
veil of futurity, and to foresee the precise series of events which have occurred, 
my vote would have been unchanged. We had been insulted, and outraged, and 
spoliated upon by almost all Europe by Great Britain, by France, by Spain, 
Denmark, Naples, and, to cap the climax, by the little contemptible power of 
Algiers. We had submitted too long and too much. We had become the scorn of 
foreign powers, and the derision of our own citizens. What have we gained by 
the war? Let any man look at the degraded condition of this country before the 
war, the scorn of the universe, the contempt of ourselves, and tell me if we have 
gained nothing by the war. What is our situation now? ^Respectability and 
character abroad, security and confidence at home, 

While he was absent in Europe he was again elected to the House. 
Before leaving Kentucky to take his seat in the House, Secretary of 
State Monroe offered him the mission to Russia. This offer he declined 
as he later declined a seat in the cabinet as Secretary of War, tendered 
him by President Madison. On the first day of the session he was once 
more elected Speaker* Clay and Calhoun were the two dominant 
leaders of the Republicans in the new Congress. The tax question was 
one of the main issues before that Congress* Mr. Clay became the 


conspicuous opponent of a proposed measure reducing the direct taxes, 

He frequently availed himself of the privilege of joining in debates 
when the House was in Committee of the Whole, and made a number 
of speeches on the tax question, lie set forth that affairs with Spain 
were not very promising, and that it would be better to keep a strong 
army and navy than to wait until war should come and we would once 
more find ourselves unprepared. He again brought forward his great 
scheme of internal improvements, all of which would call for money. 

The tariff also became a prominent question before Congress. As 
soon as the war ended the country was flooded with foreign merchan- 
dise, and American manufactories were forced to close. Clay wanted 
to protect them. In early life he had declared in favor of the protec- 
tion theory that had been advocated by Hamilton, and now sought to 
put that theory into more active practice, A strange mix-up in politics 
resulted. Hamilton had been the leader and idol of the Federalists and 
they had supported his protection theory. The Republicans under Jef* 
ferson had been in opposition. Now the Republicans, following Clay, 
were the protectionists while the Federalists were its opponents. Cal- 
houn, Lowndes, and other Southerners were on the side of Clay. Web- 
ster, the great New Englaudcr led the opposition. 

There was another troublesome problem before Congress. The cur- 
rency situation was deplorable. This had been brought about largely 
by the refusal to recharter the Bnnk of the United States* Clay had 
been one of the strongest opponents of the renewal More of this 
attitude of Clay on the bank question will be given when dealing 1 with 
the Clay-Jackson war. The withdrawal from, circulation of the notes 
of the Bank of the United States brought forth a flood of circulating 
notes issued by State banks, and the country was fairly deluged with 
such notes, many of them issued without sufficient specie buck ing. A 
a natural result, they circulated only at a ruinous discount, Specie pay- 
ments were suspended and a wild financial panic swept over the coun- 
try- Manufacturers and merchants went into bankruptcy in all parts 
of the country. The Secretary of the Treasury promptly recommended 
the establishment of a specie-paying bank, and this was warmly cham- 
pioned by Clay, It was in fact a revival of the old Bank of the United 

While all these troubles were affecting the political situation Mr* 
Monroe was inaugurated President, He at once tendered to Mr. Clay 
a place in his Cabinet; as Secretary of War, or, if preferred, the mis- 
sion to England* Both those offers were declined* There were those 
who believed that had the offer of a cabinet place been that of Secre- 
tary of State Mr. Clay would have accepted. The State Department 
was looked upon as a stepping stone to the presidency, Madison had 
been Secretory of State under Jefferson, and had followed him in the 
higher office. Monroe had occupied that place under Madison, and was 


now President. So a feeling had grown up among the politicians that 
the State Department was the stepping stone to the presidency. 

When the House met Clay was once more elected Speaker, and this 
time by an almost unanimous vote, receiving 140 to 7. In his first 
message President Monroe declared his opposition to Clay's pet scheme 
of internal Improvements. This was regarded by many as an open 
challenge to Clay. The gallant Kentuckian alj once accepted the chal- 
lenge, and soon political, or official, life became quite a burden to Mr, 
Monroe. In one of his speeches on the subject Mr. Clay asked his audi- 
ence if the Constitution in giving power to Congress to establish post- 
offices and post roads was intended for the States on the Atlantic sea- 
board alone and for the benefit solely of* that section of the country, 
and then answered his own question as follows : 

Every man who looks at the Constitution in the spirit to entitle him to the 
character of a statesman must elevate Ms views to the height which this nation 
is destined to reach in the rank of nations. We are not legislating for this mo- 
ment only, or for the present generation, or for the present populated limits of the 
United States; but our acts must embrace a wider scope reaching northwestward 
to the Pacific, and southwardly to the river Del Norte, Imagine this extent of 
territory covered with sixty, or seventy, or an hundred millions of people. The 
powers which exist in this government now will exist then; and those which will 
exist then exist now. 

What was the object of the Convention in framing the Constitution ? The leading 
object was UNION. Union, then peace external and internal, and commerce, but 
more particularly union and peace, the great objects of the framers of the Con- 
stitution, should be kept steadfastly in view in the interpretation of any clause of 
it; and where it is susceptible of various interpretations!, that construction should 
be preferred which tends to promote the objects of the framers of the Constitu- 
tion to the consolidation of the Union, ... I am a friend, a true friend, to state 
rights, but not in all cases as they are asserted. We should equally avoid that 
subtile process of argument which dissipates into air the powers of th govern- 
ment, and that spirit of encroachment which would snatch from the states powers 
not delegated to the general government. 

The result of the debate was the passage of a resolution declaring 
that Congress has the power to appropriate money for the construction 
of post roads, military, and other roads, and for the improvement of 
waterways. Clay pressed the subject at every opportunity, and his 
speeches sometimes had a tone of bitterness. Clay, perhaps more than 
any other statesman of his day, anticipated the future greatness of the 
country* Of this characteristic of the great Commoner Mr. Schurz 
says: "Here was the well-spring from which Henry Clay drew his 
inspiration a grand conception of the future destiny of the American 
Republic, and of a government adapted to the fulfillment of that great 
destiny; an ardent lover of the Union, as the ark of liberty and na- 
tional grandeur, a Union to be maintained at any price ; an imaginative 
enthusiasm which infused its patriotic glow into his political princi- 
ples, but which was also apt to carry him beyond the limits of existing 
things and conditions, and not seldom unfitted him for the formation 


of a clear and well-balanced judgment of facts and interests. But this 
enthusiastic conception of national grandeur, this lofty Unionism con- 
stantly appearing as the inspiration of his public conduct, gave to his 

policies, as they stood forth in the glow of his eloquence, a peculiarly 
potent charm/' 

The result of the debate was the passage of a resolution that Con- 
gress possessed the power to appropriate money for the construction of 
post, military, and other roads, and for the improvement of water- 
ways. But Congress refused to declare it possessed the power to con- 
struct canals. It was only a partial victory for Mr, Clay. In a number 
of ways he criticised the administration of President Monroe, but only 
to his own hurt, for It was charged that his opposition arose from his 
disappointment in not receiving the Portfolio of State, 

A speech he delivered urging a recognition of the Republics set up 
in South America by the revolt against Spain has long been regarded 
one of the most eloquent of all the speeches he made during his life- 
time. It was eloquent in the highest degree, and created throughput 
this country an intense feeling in support of the movement for an im- 
mediate and efficient recognition on the part of the United States gov- 
ernment of those newly established Republics. It did not, howevor, 
avail anything so far as congressional action was concerned. 

It was during the second session of this Congress that the first clash 
between Clay and Jackson occurred. It was over Jacksoif s invasion of 
Florida. A resolution was reported to the House disapproving of the 
trial and punishment of the two British traders under the order of 
Jackson. Clay took a prominent part in the debate which followed* 
At one time during the debate he said, among other things ; 

In arising to address you, sir, I must b allowed to say, that all Inferences* 
drawn from the course which it will be my painful duty to take in this discussion, 
of unfriendliness either to the chief magistrate of tho country, or to tine illustrious 
military chieftain whose operations are under investigation, will be wholly un- 
founded. Toward that distinguished captain who shed BO much glory on our 
country, whoso renown constitutes so great a portion of its moral property, 1 neve? 
had, I never can hare, any other feelings than those of the most profound rtupeet 
and of the utmost kindness. 1 know the motives which have been, and will again 
bo attributed to me in regard to the other exalted personage alluded to. Thny have 
been and they will be unfounded. I have no interest other than that of seeing the 
concerns of my country well and happily administered, Bather than throw 0b* 
Ht ruction s in the way of the President, I would precede him and pick out thoiK> If 
I could, which might jostle him in hia progress. I may be again reluctantly com- 
polled to differ from him, but 1 will with the utmost sincerity susurt the committee 
that I have formed no resolution, come under no engagements, and that I nevar 
will form any resolution, or contract any engagements, for systematic opposition 
to his administration, or to that of any other chief magistrate* 

His speech, was statesmanlike and of great brilliancy, but it made 
Jackson his enemy, and Jackson was not of the forgiving kind* Jaek- 
kept Clay out of the presidency. Clay still retained his popularity 


In the House, and when the Sixteenth Congress assembled he was 
again named as Speaker, and this by an almost unanimous vote, in 
"fact without any opposition. 

It was not long after Congress had opened its session before Clay 
was on his feet again, assailing the administration. Secretary of State 
John Quincy Adams had negotiated a treaty with Spain for the cession 
of Florida, but it had failed of being ratified by the King of Spain, and 
a proposition had been made for the United States to take possession 
of Florida by force of arms. The treaty as negotiated had not been 
satisfactory to Clay. He charged that it had surrendered to Spain 
large territory which rightfully belonged to the United States by virtue 
of the accession of Louisiana. 

The scheme to take possession of Florida by force, or obtaining that 
territory by another treaty aroused Clay to vehement wrath* He 
assailed the proposition and the treaty in a number of speeches. He 
offered two resolutions, one to the effect that no treaty surrendering 
territory was valid without the consent of Congress ; the other that the 
cession of Florida to the United States was not an adequate equivalent 
for the surrender to Spain of Texas. Both failed of adoption. 

Another great opportunity for Clay to make his influence felt was 
when the bill for the admission of Missouri into the Union as a State 
was presented. It awakened intense interest in all parts of the coun- 
try. There was a growing sentiment in the North against the exten- 
sion of slave territory, and a determined effort was made to exclude 
the institution from the new State. A compromise was the final result. 

Many historians and political writers have given Clay the chief 
honor of the compromise, claiming that he was its author. This is not 
true. The compromise bill was first introduced in the Senate. It 
passed that body and came to the House as a Senate measure. By 
adroit parliamentary rulings Speaker Clay did prevent its final rejec- 
tion by the House, and thus identified himself with the final success of 
the measure* 

During the second session of the Sixteenth Congress Mr. Clay re- 
signed the Speakership and his seat in the House, owing, as he said, to 
pressing private business. He was not a member of the Seventeenth 
Congress, but closely watched the turn of events. His faithful con- 
stituents of the Lexington district would not let him live in retirement 
and sent him to the Eighteenth Congress by a practically unanimous 
vote. During his short absence from the House the Speakership of the 
House had been a bone of contention, but immediately upon his taking 
Ms seat in the Eighteenth Congress he was once more elevated to that 
high place, it being his sixth election as Speaker. 

As the administration of Mr. Monroe drew toward its close the 
question as to who should be his successor became of absorbing inter- 
est to the people as well as to the several gentlemen who aspired to 


that proud position. Three members of the cabinet were active aspi- 
rants ; Adams, Secretary of State ; Crawford, Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, and Calhoun, Secretary of War, To these were added Clay, 
Speaker of the House; Jackson, a member of the Senate from Tennes- 
see, and George Clinton, of New York, Calhoun and Clinton later 
withdrew and became candidates for the second place. This left the 
race to Crawford, Adams, Clay, and Jackson- 
There was a failure to elect by the people, Jackson receiving the 
highest number of electoral votes, but a minority of the popular vote. 
The election was thrown into the House, Adams winning. Through 
the influence of Clay the vote of Kentucky was given to Adams, thus 
securing his election. At once a cry of "Bargain and sale!" went up. 
Clay was accused of bartering the vote of Kentucky in return for a 
promise of a seat in the Cabinet as Secretary of State. In after in- 
vestigations all this was disproved, it being clearly shown that the 
whole story was without even a shadow of foundation, but it rose up 
to trouble Clay in all his future campaigns, 

Mr* Clay was tendered the appointment as Secretary of State, and 
accepted it. Of this appointment Mr. Schurz, in his "Life of Clay/* 
says ; 

Under ordinary circumstances the offer would have been regarded a a per- 
fectly proper and even natural one. Clay was by far the mont brilliant leader of 
the ruling party* His influence was large and Me ability equal to his influence* 
It was desirable to have a Western man In the Cabinet. Clay towered so hifth 
above all the public characters in that region that it would have looked almost 
grotesque to pans him by, exalting somebody else. It IB true that Adams had dif- 
fered from Clay on important thingB, and had expressed Home unfavorable opin- 
ions of him, as, indeed, he had of almost all other public men of note. But the 
subjects on which they had differed were disposed of; and aa to personal feeling 
It was one of the remarkable features of Adams' character that, strong an M 
prejudices and resentments were, he put them resolutely aside when they ntood 
in tho way of the fulfillment of a public duty. So, to the end of conciliating the 
Crawford element, he sufficiently overcame a feeling of strong personal dislike to 
offer to Crawford himself, In spite of that gentleman's physical <UabHitie, to 
continue at the head of the Treasury Department an offer which Crawford 
promptly declined. ... In an administration constructed upon the principle that 
the leaders of the ruling party should form part of it, Clay wan, of course, a nec- 
essary man; and to offer him a place in the Cabinet appeared not only in ttnelf 
proper, but unavoidable. Clay would, therefore, undoubtedly have been offered a 
place in the Cabinet whether he had or had not exercised any influence favorable 
to Mr, Adam*)' election. 

Mr* Clay accepted the offer* On the whole, Mr* Clay's administra- 
tion of tho office was creditable to himself and of honor to the Govern- 
ment, although he foiled in his efforts to bring about certain relations 

he anxiously desired with South America, He had this very much at 
heart, and his failure mortified him very much- It was during his 
Incumbency of the State Department that his duel with John "Ran- 
dolph occurred. It was brought about by some severe reflections 


Randolph had made in the Senate over the connection of Clay and 
Adams. It was a bloodless affair, Randolph refusing to fire on Clay, 
and Clay's bullet only piercing Randolph's coat. 

On retiring from the State Department, Mr. Clay returned to Ken- 
tucky, and although for a time in private life, he was still the unques- 
tioned leader of his party. He did not remain long out of public life. 
He was elected to the United States Senate, and took his seat in that 
body in December, 1831. The great political battle of his life was to 
be fought. Two great issues soon developed the rechartering of the 
United States Bank, and the enactment of tariff legislation. 

In both issues he found himself in antagonism with the Jackson 
administration at first, but in the outcome was the strong defender of 
Old Hickory on the tariff matter. On the bank question he was op- 
posed to Jackson from, the first to the last. Before recounting this 
historic fight, it will be well to recall Clay's former attitude in regard 
to the bank. 

When the charter of the first United States bank was about to ex- 
pire in 1811, its renewal was asked of Congress, Clay was, at the 
time, a member of the Senate and arrayed himself strongly against 
granting a renewal of the charter. He argued the question at great 
length on what he called constitutional grounds. The speech he then 
made was recalled to the public mind by President Jackson when his 
great fight against the bank was on, much to the annoyance of 
Mr. Clay. 

A recharter was granted, but vetoed by President Madison. Dur- 
ing the Monroe administration it became again absolutely necessary 
to establish a bank that would supply the country with a stable cur- 
rency. A charter was granted, and it was against that bank Jackson 
made his fight. He wanted to destroy it, and that was enough for him 
and his friends. It might be sound, and it was sound, but Jackson had 
his reasons for its destruction. 

The charter would not expire for several years in fact, not until 
after the close of Jackson's administration but he would not wait. 
Its death must come while he was at the helm of the nation. It would 
be idle to attempt to give here any account of the cause of Jackson's 
enmity. He believed those who were at the head of the bank were his 
enemies, and to be his enemy was to court destruction. 

Jackson wanted the Government deposits withdrawn. A Secretary 
of the Treasury reifused to order the withdrawal and the President 
removed him, A direct order waa then issued by the President that 
all Government deposits be instantly withdrawn and given to certain 
State banks. This gave Mr. Clay his opportunity, and the fight was 
on. He offered two resolutions. One declared that the reasons given 
by the newly-appointed Secretary of the Treasury for issuing the 
order of removal were not satisfactory. The other declared that the 


President had assumed powers not conferred on him by the Consti- 

A great debate followed, participated in by all the leaders of the 
Senate. Both resolutions were finally adopted, but the fight was only 
begun. Senator Benton, the leading defender of the President, made 
a motion to expunge from the record the obnoxious resolution censur- 
ing the President, and announced that if defeated at that session, he 
would renew the motion at every session until success should crown 
his efforts. Session after session he did renew his motion. The con- 
test continued until Jackson's administration was nearly at an end, 
For days the motion of Benton had been debated; Benton saw final 
victory within his reach. He banded the friends of his motion to- 
gether in a fast and tight agreement to permit of no adjournment 
until a vote was had. On the last night of the session Clay, Webster, 
and Calhoun each spoke at length against the motion. Among other 
things Mr. Clay said : 

If the matter of expxmction b contrary to the truth of the case, reproachful for 
its base subserviency, derogatory from the just and necessary powers* of the Sen- 
ate, and repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, the manner in which 
it Is proposed to accomplish this dark deed IB also highly exceptionable. The ex- 
punging resolution which is to blot out or enshroud the four or five linen in which 
the resolution of 1884 stands recorded, or, rather, the recitals by which it it* pre- 
ceded, are spun out into a thread of enormous length. It runs, wherean, and 
whereas, and whereaa, and whereas, and whereas, and whereas, into a formidable 
array of nine whereases. One who should have the courage to begin to read thorn, 
unaware of what was to be their termination, could think that the end of such a 
tremendous display he must find the very devil 

But why should I detain the Senate, or needlessly waste my breath in nadtlea 
exertions. The decree has gone forth* It is one of urgency, too. The deed is to 
b donethat foul deed which, like the blood-stained hands of the guilty Macbeth, 
all the ocean's waters will never wash out. Proceed, then, with the noble work 
which lies before you, and, like other skillful executioners, do it quickly. And whan 
you have perpetrated it, go home to the people, and tell them what glorioun honors 
you have achieved for our common country* Tell them that you have extinftuitthetl 
one of the brightest and purest lights that ever burnt at the altar of civil liberty* 
Tell them that you have nilencecl one of the noblest batteries that ever thundered 
in defense of the Constitution, and bravely spiked its cannon* Tell thorn that, 
henceforward, no matter what daring or outrageous act any President may per- 
form, you have forever hermetically sealed the mouth of the Senate. Tell thorn that 
he may fearlessly assume what powers he pleasee, snatch from its custody the public 
pure, command a military detachment to enter the halls of this Capitol, ovorawo 
Congress, trample down the Constitution, and ranse every bulwark of freedom; but 
that the Senate must stand mute, in ailent aubmision, and not dare to ratoo it 
opposing voice. * * Tell them, finally, that you have restored the glorious doc- 
trines of passive obedience and non-roHiatance. And If the people do not pour out 
their indignation and imprecations, I have yet to learn the character of American 

Notwithstanding the bitter feeling between Clay and Jackson, there 
wins one occasion when, the Senator used all his great Influence! his 


eloquence, his statesmanship to support the President. In a former 
session a tariff bill had been enacted which was exceedingly pbnoxious 
to the South. Threats had been indulged in of nullifying the act, even 
of a dissolution of the Union, unless the obnoxious duties were re- 
moved by Congress, The crisis was acute. 

The President was determined the law should be enforced. The 
threats of disunion gave him the opportunity of offering his famous 
toast: "The Union! It must be preserved." The President was de- 
voted to the Union, and his determined character was well known in 
the South. He even gave it out that if necessary he would send the 
army into South Carolina, and even that he would proceed to extreme 
measures by hanging Senator Calhoun, the leader of the nullifiers. 

The Northern Senators were opposed to a reduction of the duties 
and were demanding extreme measures against the nullifiers. The 
President asked for an enlargement of the powers of the Executive, 
such as would enable him to dose the ports of entry, remove custom 
houses that were interfered with, employ military force in holding 
goods for customs dues, and otherwise to act against the nullifiers. 
The measure became known as the "Force Bill." 

The House Committee on Ways and Means reported a revenue bill 
contemplating a sweeping reduction of the tariff of 1816, It was re- 
garded as an administration bill. The reduction was to take place in 
the course of two years. It satisfied the South, but angered the pro- 
tectionists. One day after another passed in endless talk, and the end 
of the short session approached without anything being accomplished 
in the way of avoiding the crisis. 

It was then that Mr, Clay took the matter in hand- Twenty days 
before the short session would come to an end he offered a tariff bill 
of his own. It was avowedly a compromise measure. It provided for 
a gradual reduction of duties every second year. The free list was 
considerably enlarged* Clay was the avowed champion of protection, 
and the introduction of this bill was a great surprise to both sides of 
the controversy. 

After some interviews Calhoun gave his adhesion to the scheme. He 
was an avowed free-trader, but desired to avoid any extreme measures 
on the part of the President. The manufacturers of the North were 
frightened ; they saw ruin before them if foreign competition were not 
checked. To quiet them, Mr. Clay said : 

There are four modes by -which the industries of the country can be protected: 
First, the absolute prohibition of rival foreign articles; second, the imposition of 
duties in such a manner as to have no reference to any object but revenue; third, 
the raising of as much revenue as is wanted for the use of the Government and 
no more, but raising it from the unprotected articles; and, fourth, the admission, 
free of duty, of every article which aided the operations of the manufacturers. 


He claimed that the fourth mode was provided in the bill and was 
extended. The compromise bill met with much opposition in the Sen- 
ate. Calhoun opposed one feature of the bill with great vehemence, 
but was finally forced to not only accept it, but to vote for it. This 

was brought about by the energetic action of Senator Clayton, of Dela- 
ware, who declared if every Senator from the South did not pledge 
himself to vote for the bill, thus taking it out of their power to after- 
ward claim it as unconstitutional, he would move to lay the whole mat- 
ter on the table, leaving the President to resort to the extreme meas- 
ures he threatened. 

This was humiliating to the last degree to- those Senators, but Mr. 
Clayton stuck to his guns, and the bill finally passed with their votes. 
The Force Bill had passed the Senate, and unless the compromise was 
accepted it would pass the House* There was one serious objection to 
the compromise tariff bill, a constitutional objection, that all revenue 
bills should originate in the House. This was overcome by shrewd 
management. The House had long been wrangling over the bill re- 
ported by the Committee on Ways and Means. Suddenly, one day, an 
intimate friend and devoted follower of Clay, Representative Letcher, 
of Kentucky, moved to amend the committee bill by striking out all 
after the enacting clause, and inserting new provisions, the provisions 
of the compromise bill pending in the Senate, This movement was 
instigated by Mr. Clay, and all of his friends, as well as the adherents 
of Calhoun, had been secretly notified the step would be taken. The 
amendment of Mr. Letcher was adopted and the bill as amended passed 
by the House. The bill, reaching the Senate from the House, did away 
with the constitutional objection, and that body passed it by the deci- 
sive vote of twenty-nine to sixteen. The President signed it on the 
same day he signed the Force Bill. 

South Carolina repealed her nullification ordinance, and the manu- 
facturers of the North later expressed their satisfaction with the bill 
Of the way in which the bill was received by the co-untry Mr- Bcnton 
says, in his "Thirty Years* View" : "It was received as a deliverance, 
and the ostensible authors of it greeted as benefactors, and their work 
declared by legislatures to bo sacred and inviolable, and every citizen 
doomed to political outlawry that did not give in his adhesion and bind 
himself to the perfecting the act." 

The nulllfters submitted, but they were not satisfied, They repealed 
their nullification ordinance, but clung to their doctrines that a State 
has the right to nullify any act of the Congress. Threats of disunion 
became a settled policy of the South to frighten the North into com- 
pliance with any behest they might make. 

Mr, Clay's great ambition was to become President. For that high 
place his first race was in 1824, when John Qulney Adams, William 
Crawford, and Andrew Jackson were also seeking the presidency. The 


vote that year failed before the people, and the House elected Adams. 
In 1828 he was not a candidate against Adams, but from that time on 
until his death he was ever looking: forward to the day when he should 
be selected. As one man satirically expressed it : "Clay could get more 
men to run after him to hear him speak and fewer to vote for him 
than any other man known to American politics." Sometimes he was 
defeated before the people, and at others failed to receive the nomina- 
tion at the hands of his party. He was a disappointed man, and in the 
last years of his life his disappointment soured his temper. Defeated 
for the nomination in 1840, when his election was almost sure, was a 
severe blow to him, and he soon after resigned from the Senate. It 
was then charged that his resignation was because of his disappoint- 
ment. Of this Mr. Benton, in his "Thirty Years' View/' says: "The 
termination of the presidential election in November was the period 
at which Mr. Clay intended to retire. The determination was formed 
before that time formed from the moment that he found himself 
superseded at the head of his party by a process of intricate and track- 
less filtration of public opinion, which left him a dreg, where he had 
been for so many years the head. It was a mistake, the effect of cal- 
culation, which ended more disastrously for his party than for himself. 
Mr. Clay could have been elected at that time/' In another place Mr. 
Benton said: 

Mr. Clay led a great party and for a long time, whether he dictated to it or not, 
and kept it well bound together, without the usual means of forming and leading 

parties. It was a marvel that, without power or patronage (for the greater part 
of his career was passed in opposition as a more member of Congress), he was 
able HO long and so undividedly to keep so great a party together and to lead it 
NO unresistingly. The marvel was solved on a close inspection of his character. 
He had great talents, but not equal to some he led. He had eloquence superior 
in popular effect, but not equal to high oratory to that of some others. But his 
temperament was fervid, his will strong, and his courage daring; and these quali- 
ties, added to his talents, gave Mm the lead of supremacy in his party where he 
was always dominant, but twice set aside by the politicians. 

Mr, Clay in manner was haughty and imperious, yet could yield 
gracefully when he saw defeat before him. He possessed great charms 
of manner and knew how to use those charms to win supporters. His 
charms were: unrivaled eloquence, inate patriotism, a commanding 
presence, a voice the sweetest ever heard in oratory. He was a devoted 
lover of the Union. 

He was six times elected Speaker of the House, and as a presiding 
officer still stands unrivaled. He was a master of parliamentary laws 
and usages, and though a partisan, he was ever fair in his rulings. No 
ruling of his was ever revoked by the House. His manners were pol- 
ished, and he had a smile that disarmed those who objected to a rul- 
ing. No man in American political history had more devoted friends 
than Henry Clay. 



LANGDOH CHEVES Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 
Thirteenth Congress, Born in Rocky River, now Abbeville, South 
Carolina, September 17, 1776, Son of Alexander and Mary (Langdon) 
Cheves. Ordinary education. Married in 1806, Mary Elizabeth Dulles. 
Died in Columbia, South Carolina, June 26, 1857, 

Langdon Cheves had a notable career as a lawyer, a member of Con- 
gress, and as a banker. Lang-don Cheves, of Columbia, S. C., furnishes 
the following interesting sketch of his great ancestor: 

Notes from memory by his grand$on f Lan@don Ckevam 

FLAT ROCK, N. C., October 14, 1025. 

Langdon Cheves was born September 17, 1778, in the Ninety-sixth District (now 
Abbeville County), South Carolina, in Bull Town Fort> a stockaded block-house, 

where the scattered settlers had taken refuse from the terrible onnlaught of the 
Cherokee Indians, after the British attack on Charleston, Ilia young- aunt and 
another girl were murdered and scalped near the fort* 

He was the only child of Alexander Chivai? and Mary Lanffdon, his wife, Hfe 
mother was a Virginia refugee; his father, a Scot, a native of Buchan, Aberdeen- 
shire, born there in 1741, the eldest son of John Chivis (or Chiv&tt) and Anna 
Petrie, his wife, 

Alexander Chivas came to Carolina in 1768, and began life there in the Ninety- 
sixth District, on the frontiers of the Cherokee and Creek nations. He acquired 
landa by grant and purchase, and was Buccesnful as a planter 'and trader in the 
Nation, with pack-horse trains between the Nation and Charleston. Ho married 
there, in 1774, Mary, the daughter of Thomas Langdon, a refugee, after 4< thc Brad- 
dock War," from Augusta County, Va. where his father, Joaeph Langdon, had 
grants in 1750, Thomas Bottled on the forks of Rocky Bivar, South Carolina* near 
the Pickets, CuirninghamB, and other refugees Alexander Ghivaa waa a Kin^'w 
man, an became a Scot* He fought the Indiana, but would not fight against the 
King. Compelled to choose sides, he served as lieutenant in Colonel Hamilton*** 
Loyal Begiment 

His young wife died in 1770, aged 25 years, and leaving hta Infant son to the 
care of relatiotw, he retired to Charleston, and thence to Scotland, 110 re-mar- 
ried there in ,1785, and, returning to Carolina, brought his HOB from Abbeville to 
live in Charleston, 

Langdon had grown to nine years of age in the primitive outdoor life of a 
frontier settlement In 1783 hi grandfather (who had bean a captain on the 
American aide in the "00" fight in 1776) died, leaving Mm his lands on the north 
fork of the Shenandoah and lota in Woodstock, Va. His aunt, a good and elaver 
woman, had brought him up wall, and given him the rudiments of education* 

In Charleston he had opportunities of fullest learning. His father, having Jont 
his property in the war, *wtw living in traitonod circum&tanceH, but could nww'st 
his clever and oa^er son, who alno received educational help and books from the 
Kev, Dr. Butet, minister of the Scotch Kirk, and other friends, and was untlrinj? 
in atwly himself. While still a boy he wa placed in a factor's supply tora, whwe 
hi zeal and aptitude for business soon made him confidential clerk* 

In thone days supplJ were distributed to planterfi akmg tho numeroui rivets 
by mall veaaele, and his duty as nuper-cargo brought him amongt varying people 


and experiences, where judgment, tact and self-control were to be learned. Mean- 
while he pursued Ms studies with unflagging assiduity, added the study of law, 
and decided to give up his position and enter a lawyer's office. His employer re- 
monstrated, declaring he was "born a successful merchant," but assisted him in 
his plans. 

He entered the office of Mr. William Marshall, and in 1797 was admitted to the 
bar. His first case was from Dr, Buist, and against the able and popular attorney- 
general (Mr. Pringle), leader of the bar and high in the social life of Charleston. 
He won his case, made a good impression on his adversary, and the leaders of the 
bar, and was received by them with the generous encouragement and assistance 
they have ever shown to their young rivals. His success at the bar was steady 
and great, and later associated with Mr. Peace, they had the largest business and 
greatest emoluments every received in Charleston. 

Mr. Cheves' father died in December, 1800, and he shared the small fortune 
generously with his step-mother for her support* 

Mr. Cheves soon entered politics; in 1802 was elected alderman, and then to the 
State Legislature, where his reputation was increased. He married, in 1806, Mary 
Elizabeth, daughter of Mr, Joseph Dulles, merchant, of Charleston and Philadel- 
phia* In 1808 he was made attorney-general, then the proudest attainment of a 
lawyer. In 1800 he was elected to Congress from the Charleston District, and 
there soon took a high position. His speeches on the Merchants' Shipping Bill and 
the Army Bill attracted great attention, and Washington Irving thought he saw 
impersonated the classic orators. His judgment, force, reason, fairness of mind, 
great insight, and clearness of expression steadily increased his reputation. Mr. 
Cheves was a member of the Committee on Naval Affairs, and, I believe, its chair- 
man, and, I have always understood, did much, to build up that splendid Navy 
which was soon to rival that of the Mistress of the Seas! He was then chairman 
of the Ways and Means Committee, and there showed great ability in financial 
affairs, His friend, the Hon. William Lowndes, succeeded Mm on the Naval Com- 
mittee- Mr. Cheves stood with the "Galaxy" of South Carolina for the honor of 
their country against the arbitrary acts of England, and turned the scale for the 
war which raised their country forever above such humiliations. 

In 18 IS, on Ms friend Mr* Clay's resigning the Speakership, Mr, Cheves was 
elected, with great marks of honor and esteem, and proved himself worthy of them 
in that high office. During this period he lived much in Philadelphia and Wash- 
ington, and had long and strenuous journeys to and from South Carolina. When, 
after the war, his family returned to Washington and saw the blackened walls of 
the Capitol, his little daughters despaired for their dolls stored in its cellars ! 

In 1816 Mr. Cheves was elected a judge of the Court of Appeals of South Caro- 
lina. His mind WEB eminently judicial and his inclinations were for the law. He 
established himself in Columbia and enjoyed again the associations, the friends 
and home life of South Carolina. He made an eminent judge, and his opinions were 
clear, logical, practical and decisive. And his friends considered his change to the 
bank presidency a mistake. 

In 1818 Mr. Cheves was elected president of the United States Bank, then in an 
unsatisfactory condition. He accepted reluctantly, leaving South Carolina and the 
law unwillingly j but Ms friends in Philadelphia, and his wife's family, now living 
there, were urgent. His reluctance was increased when the President offered him 
the vacant associate justiceship of the Supreme Court, an office suited to Ms mind, 
inclination and ambition. But he considered Mraself bound to his friends by Ms 
promise to accept the presidency of the bank, and was obliged to decline the jus- 

Mr, Cheves* management of the alfairs of the bank was masterly, and is briefly 
recounted in Mrs. Beginald Daly's address before the American Historical Society. 


After several years, when the bank's difficulties were overcome and its usefulness 
and stability seemed assured, he resigned the presidency to accept the position of 
Commissioner under the Treaty of Ghent. 

While in Philadelphia he erected a handsome home for the bank and a fine house 
for himself besides. He was ever a great builder of houses. But he was neces- 
sarily much in Washington, also, and his two daughters were "#oing out" there. 
He also bought and greatly improved a country house at Lancaster, Fa,, which he 
called "Abbeville," after his old home in South Carolina, and which still bears the 
name, where he lived, spending his summers at Newport, on his way to which he 
experienced one of the few illness of his life. 

In 1824-25 he was mentioned for Secretary of the Navy, for Minister to Eng- 
land, and, indeed, for the Presidency itself* 

In 1829 Mr, Cheves returned to South Carolina, His family was growing up. He 
had been long- away, and his wife's family had valuable cotton plantations there, 
and these required his attention* 

It is difficult to realize the exhausting trials and exertions and the time required 
in traveling from Charleston to Philadelphia by sailing vessels or, more commonly, 
by land in heavy coaches, flimsy chairs, or horseback, day after (lay, over wretched 
ro&da, and "resting" at worse inns, there and back again, Mrs. Cheves writes for 
her brother to take her by sea to Philadelphia. "You are not strong enough to 
do, m Mr, Cheves does, drive the coach-and-four himself all the way/' 

Judge Cheves (as he was usually called) had been long away from South Caro- 
lina, ami was out of touch with political changes, new ideas, and a later generation 
of politicians. He was unalterably opposed to the popular desiro for separate State 
action as unwise and ineffective (though he favored united action of the Southern 
States to preserve their liberties), and opposed it in Mpcoch, action and the prass. 
Henco he was out of politics in the State. Having settled affairs in the St. Mat- 
thews cotton plantations, in 1880 Mr, Cheves went to Charleston to a large house, 
with park-like grounds, where hia family enjoyed the social entertainments and 
gayotios of Charleston, whore MB oldest daughter WULH married, and a great change 
came in MM own life. 

At near 60 years of ago he decided, to leave public life and begin life over aR a 
planter. He bought and improved valuable rice plantations on the Savannah Kivor 
and settled others on the Ogeecheo River, in Georgia, He lived on hiw plantations, 
or in Savannah, later establishing a summer homo near Pandleton, in the South 
Carolina mountains, and devoted himself to the cultivation and improvement of his 
plantations with all the energy and enthusiasm with which he had begun life as a 
lawyer, statesman and financier, and with equal success, for in a few yearn he 
made, for those times, a great fortune by agriculture, and settled his sons and 
daughters in largo and profitable possessions* But ho suffered great misfortunes, 
also, in those yearn in the deaths of his devoted wife and two oldest on. 

Judge Ohevos wan a man of the highest character and attainments, firm of pur- 
pose, but just, tolerant and geno.rous. He was admired and liked by all his asso- 
ciates and neighbors wherever ho lived, and popular with all he met. lift was fond 
of society, and liked company and good and spacious houses, and entertaining In 
them easily and freely. 

When, in his old ago, South Carolina and the Southern States united to resist 
oppression, he bora his full part, and his speech at the Nashville Convention was 
one of the greatest of his life. 

Having made over the gmiter part of MB property to his sons and daughters, 
ho retired to a house he had built (hiw liwt) in the "Baud Hills/' iwur Columbia, and 
passed a few quiet yearn; but survived only a short time the untimely deaths of 
his two younger sous, and died in Columbia on the 215th of Juno, JB57, in the Hint 
year of his ago, full of years and honors and mourned by hia State and her people. 


The name went through many variations. It is now "Cheves," pro- 
nounced Chi vis, and was originally spelled Seves,Shivis,Chivis,Chivas. 
Mr. Cheves himself decided on it as now spelled. 

In politics he was of the Jeffersonian, or "Strict Construction," fol- 
lowing. From the beginning of our national history South Carolina, 
more than any other State in the Union, clung to the strict construc- 
tion of the Constitution, as opposed to the theories of Hamilton. It 
was as a National Republican Mr. Cheves was elected to Congress in 

He entered Congress just at a tinue when the country was aflame 
over the conduct of England in seizing American sailors on the high 
seas. All the South was aroused under the slogan, "Free Trade and 
Sailors' Rights," and Mr. Cheves ardently responded. In Congress he 
met with other young men of his way of thought on this subject, such 
as Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Felix Grundy. Mr. Clay at once 
became the leader of the younger element in Congress, and they began 
active and effective work to force the timid Madison to prepare for 
earnest and efficient opposition to the outrages on American rights by 
Great Britain. 

Mr. Cheves was made Chairman of the Committee on Ways and 
Means, and also a member of the Committee on Naval Affairs. This 
placed him at once in the ranks of leaders of that wing of his party on 
the floor. He took an active part in all the major debates, establishing 1 
a reputation as an orator of high degree, and a ready and able debater. 

He was a devoted friend of Speaker Clay, supporting him, in every 
measure ho proposed. Being a forcible debater, and possessing a thor- 
ough knowledge of international law, and an unbounded confidence in 
the future greatness and power of the United States, he early wielded 
a great influence both in and out of Congress. He looked forward to 
a time when the United States would be one of the most powerful 
among the nations of the earth, and he felt it was incumbent on the 
people and the Government to affirm, even if war should result, the 
rights of our citizens upon the seas. These views he enforced in a 
number of speeches. 

He quickly became one of the most popular members of the House, 
and when he spoke he was given close attention by all his colleagues. 
He was re-elected to the Thirteenth Congress, and when it became 
rumored that Mr, Clay would resign the Speakership to take a place on 
the Peace Commission, by alnxogt common consent it was taken for 
granted he would be elevated to the Speakership, which quickly fol- 
lowed when Mr. Clay did resign. 

As Speaker, he was firm and conciliatory. On two occasions he gave 
the casting- vote on two very important measures, A proposition was 
submitted to the House for the temporary removal of the seat of gov- 
ernment from Washington, owing to its almost defenseless situation. 


A committee to which the resolution had been submitted reported that 
it was unnecessary and inexpedient to remove the seat of government, 
even temporarily. On the question of concurring in the report of the 
committee, the vote was a tie* Speaker Cheves cast his vote in favor 
of concurring, and thus saved the Government from the humiliation 
of running away from its capital 

The other vote was Riven against granting a recharter to the United 
States Bank. A recharter had been recommended by the Secretary 
of the Treasury. The finances of the country were in a most deplor- 
able condition. It was without a uniform and stable currency ; the war 
had added largely to the public debt, and money was needed. The 
Secretary of the Treasury had recommended the establishment of a 
National Bank in Philadelphia, 

The contest in Congress was long and bitter and the bill was 'de- 
feated, A second bill was introduced in the Senate authorizing the 
establishment of a bank with a capital of $50,000,000, and the bank 
was to loan the Government $80,000,000, This bill passed the Senate 
and reached the House. When it came before the House on its third 
reading and final passage, the vote stood eighty-one for and eighty 

Speaker Cheves demanded that his name be called and voted against 
the bill, thus producing a tie, which automatically defeated the bill 
In the few remarks giving his reasons for the vote he was about to 
announce, he stated that by the rules of the House it was the right 
and duty of the Speaker to cast a vote in two cases, and that the ques- 
tion then pending was one of the occasions* He set forth that throe 
major points had been urged as to the necessity for such a bank, and 
declared that in his judgment the bill was a dangerous, unexampled* 
and, he might say, desperate resort to cure an evil He delivered, so 
say the "Annals of Congress," with even more than his usual elo- 
quence and iniipressiveness, his opinion of the several points that had 
been urged in favor of the bill, and concluded with expressing his 
solemn belief that neither of the purposes for which it was claimed 
the bank was to be established would be assured by the bill He denied 
that the passage of the bill was demanded for the safety of the nation, 
as had been claimed. Although it would be painful for him to east hi 
vote as he intended to do, he was obliged to vote in the negative This 
made the veto on the passage of the bill a tie, and it consequently 

During the administration of President Monroe a bill to establish 
a National Bank passed both Houses and became a law* It was the 
bank established under this Act that Jackson fought and destroyed, 
Leaving 1 Congress at the close of his term, Mr. Cheves resumed the 
practice of his profession, retaining* however, his interest in State 
and National polities* In 1816 he was elected one of the 


Justices of the Supreme Court of South Carolina, and became as emi- 
nent as a jurist as he had been as a statesman. He had been offered 
a seat in the Cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury by President Mon- 
roe, but he declined the position in favor of his friend, William H. 

The new National Bank, established under the provisions of the Act 
passed during 1 the Monroe administration, began business under the 
most adverse circumstances, and, owing to faulty management, the 
bank soon fell into difficulties. A committee of investigation was 
appointed by the House of Representatives, and its report was not 
flattering to the management of the bank. Mr. Cheves had been elected 
one of the directors of the branch in South Carolina. When the direc- 
tors of the parent bank in Philadelphia, spurred on by the adverse 
report of the House Committee, determined upon a change in the man- 
agement, Mr. Cheves was elected president of the bank. Of his elec- 
tion and what was accomplished by it, John Jay Knox, in his "History 
of Banking/' says : 

On March 6, 1819, the full board elected Langdon Cheves to succeed Mr. Fisher. 
Mr, Cheves found the institution in a precarious condition. He at once instituted 
a searching examination into all its aiFairs, especially into those of the Baltimore 
branch. In his letter January 12, 1821, he speaks of the frauds perpetrated on 
the bank and the consequent losses, the lack of any legal penalty for such offenses, 
and that unfaithful officers can even while an investigation is going on take the 
bank's property from the vaults and hold it for their own purposes. The losses 
at the branch were reported to be three million dollars. Under Mr. Cheves' man- 
agement and the general improvement of business the bank soon recovered. The 
main object, and the one toward which he immediately bent his energy, was the 
maintenance of specie payments. . . . He had to reform the abuses, arising from 
the too liberal policy of his predecessors, and bear the burden of forcing the banks 
of the country to contract their circulation and resume specie payments. 

Mr. Cheves through his management of the bank restored the cur- 
rency of the country to a specie basis, thus bringing safety and pros- 
perity not only to the bank, but to the business of the country at large, 
In the short space of two years he established a reputation as one of 
the great financiers of the country. After restoring the bank to its 
legitimate position, Mr* Cheves resigned the presidency, and for a time 
practiced law in Philadelphia, Later, as has been told, he returned to 
South Carolina and lived in retirement, devoting much of his time in 
writing a series of essays, some of which have become historical. 

In politics Mr. Cheves was of the Calhoun order, believing that the 
States had a right to nullify a law of Congress and to secede from the 
Union when its people so desired. When the nulliflers during the 
Jackson administration began their talk of secession, Mr. Cheves 
opposed them, not because he did not believe in the right of secession, 
but because he thought it inopportune at that time. Some years later 


he made a speech before a convention, in which he urged the estab- 
lishment of a Southern Confederacy* lie died before that attempt was 

No son of South Carolina ever stood higher in the estimation of the 
people of that State than did Langdon Choves. Of him Judge O'Neal, 
in his "Bench and Bar of South Carolina/' says : "Judge Chcves, be- 
yond all doubt, was a most extraordinary man. He merited much more 
than he received/' Judge Hugor, himself a most distinguished jurist, 
said: "Cheves loved truth; and to it sacrificed everything/ 31 Mr 
Cheves' retirement from public life was his own voluntary act. His 
people wanted him to continue in Congress, and when he was on the 
bench wanted him to continue there, but he loved the peace of private 


JOHN W. TAYLOR Speaker of the House in the second session of the 
Sixteenth Congress, and Speaker of the Nineteenth Congress. Bom 
at Charlton, New York, March 2(5, 1784, Son of John and Chloe (Cox) 

Taylor. Educated at Union College. Married in 1808 Miss Jane 
Hodge. Died in Cleveland, Ohio, September 8, 1854. 

John W, Taylor, who served the State of New York as one of its 
representatives in Congress for twenty years, was regarded as one of 
the most brilliant men of his time. He was remarkable as a party 
leader, and it required all the influence of the great Clinton family to 
defeat him as a candidate to succeed himself in the Twenty-first Con- 
gress. Yet there is little on permanent record to tell the story of his 
life and activities, except what is found in the "Annals of Congress" 
during the several terms in which he served* And those annals are 
meager, abbreviating the speeches made during each session, 

Of the man, his manners, his methods, the measure of his influence, 
only a little can be learned. lie was a lawyer by profession* but giving 
the most of his mature life to the service of the public. He was elected 
as a Democrat, or, w they were then called, National Republican, to 
the Thirteenth Congress, and was nine times re-elected. He took part 
in all the major debates, winning fame and distinction as an orator 
and for ability as a debater. On many occasions he differed with the 
leaders of his party. Ho did not believe in the States' Rights theory 
so persistently demanded by the Calhoun school. He was a protee* 
tionist as to the tariff, and finally, and more emphatically, he was 
opposed to the further extension of slave territory* Ho broke with 
his party and became*, a Whiff In 1839. 

Those throe things were the standing and loading issues when ho 
Horvod in Congress. The first fierce battle 00 the slavery question 
broke out during the Sixteenth Congress. The section of the country 


lying west of the Mississippi River, obtained through the purchase of 
Louisiana, was to be organized for civil government. The House 
passed a bill admitting Missouri, with slavery restricted. It failed in 
the Senate. Representative Talmadge, of New York, had offered an 
amendment to the bill admitting Missouri, providing that the further 
introduction of slavery be forbidden, and that all children born within 
the State should be free at the age of twenty-five. A long debate fol- 
lowed, Mr. Taylor taking part- The amendment was finally adopted 
by the House, but, as has been noted, it was stricken out in the Senate. 

A bill for the organization of the Territory of Arkansas was then 
introduced. To this Mr. Taylor offered an amendment prohibiting the 
further introduction of slavery. It was voted down. A motion to 
reconsider the vote was finally defeated by the casting vote of Henry 
Clay, who was Speaker of the House. It was believed at the time that 
had a reconsideration of the vote been obtained, the amendment would 
have been passed by the House. 

Speaker Clay made a number of speeches, all favorable to slavery. 
In one of them he spoke slightingly of those who labored in the North. 
In the course of a rather scathing reply Mr. Taylor said : 

Labor is considered low and unfit for freemen. I cannot better illustrate this 
truth than by referring to a remark of the honorable gentleman from Kentucky 
(Mr. Clay). I have often admired the liberality of his sentiments. He is gov- 
erned by no vulgar prejudices; yet with what abhorrence did he speak of the per- 
formance, by your wives and daughters, of those domestic offices which he was 
pleased to call servile! What comparison did he make of the "black slaves" of 
Kentucky and the "white slaves" of the North; and how instantly did he strike 
a balance in favor of the condition of the former! If such opinions and expres- 
sions, even in the ardor of debate, can fall from the honorable gentleman, what 
ideas do you suppose are entertained of laboring men by the majority of slave- 
holders ? 

Before the second session of the Sixteenth Congress opened Henry 
Clay resigned the Speakership. This opened the way for a sharp con- 
test for the vacant place. There were three candidates in the field 
John W. Taylor, of New York; William Lowndes, of South Carolina, 
and Samuel Smith, of Maryland, Mr. Taylor stood strong with those 
from the North who had opposed the further extension of slavery, 
while both Lowndes and Smith were radically pro-slavery in senti- 
ment. The feeling over the admission of Missouri was still dominant, 
and angry mutterings were heard in almost all sections of the country. 
It took twenty-two ballots to determine the Speakership, Mr, Taylor 
winning finally on the twenty-second ballot. 

As Speaker during that session he added to his reputation, presiding 
with great dignity and fairness. The elections that year made numer- 
ous changes in the membership of the House, and a great effort was 
early began to defeat Mr, Taylor for the Speakership should he offer 
himself as a candidate. It seems that whenever Mr. Clay was not a 


member of the House there was always a struggle to elect a Speaker, 
but whenever he was a member, the House turned to him with prac- 
tical unanimity. When the Seventeenth Congress was chosen Mr, Clay 
was not among the members. Before the first session was to assemble 
in December, 1821, it became known that a strong opposition was 
being organized against Mr, Taylor. The balloting for Speaker opened 
on the first day of the session, with sixty votes far Mr. Taylor, forty- 
five for Caesar Rodney, of Delaware; twenty-nine for Louis McLane, 
also of Delaware; twenty for Samuel Smith, of Maryland, and seven 
votes scattering. The second day the name of McLane was withdrawn 
and that of Philip P. Barbour, of Virginia, added* At last, on the 
twelfth ballot, Mr* Barbo-ur was elected, receiving just the number 
necessary for a choice. 

Defeated for the Speakership, Mr, Taylor managed to keep things 
warm for the opposing party during the two sessions of that Congress, 
He was active on the floor and in the committee rooms. Ho still 
claimed allegiance to the National Republican party, but was not 
always subservient to what the leaders dictated should be the policy* 
He was wholly national in his political theories, never sectional 

When the Eighteenth Congress met, Henry Clay was again a mem- 
ber, and, of course, there was no struggle over the Speakership. Mr, 
Harbour had served the one term as Speaker, and now was soon to go 
upon the Supreme Bench of the United States as an Associate Justice, 
Mr, Taylor was a member and continued his activities* 

The contest for a successor to President Monroe was the main ques- 
tion agitating the people and the members of Congress. Tho "era of 
good feeling" was drawing to its close, and financial difficulties for the 
nation were looming up to disturb the dreams of the statesmen who 
were to guide the affairs of the Government* Added to thin trouble 
was the opening: wrangle over the successor to President Monroe, who 
was to be chosen the next year. Crawford, Adams, Clay, Calhoun, and 
Jackson were all before the people* The constant maneuvering by the 
friends of the various candidates operated to prevent much for the 
general good being accomplished by Congress- 
It is not necessary here to recount th story of how the election was 
finally determined by the House of Representatives- The result was 
the seating of John Quincy Adams in the White House. When the 
Nineteenth Congress began its labors in December, 1825, Mr. Taylor 
was again elected Speaker. He served with the same distinction that 
had characterized him during 1 the second session of the Sixteenth. It 
was the first Congress during the administration of President John 
Quincy Adams, and for the first time in our political history both 
Houses of Congress contained a majority hostile to the President 
Mr. Taylor only occasionally joined in the debates. He had an exalted 
opinion of the dignity of the Speakership, and held closely to the doo 


trine that the Speaker should preside, leaving the discussions of meas- 
ures and policies to those who held seats on the floor. A few times, 
however, when the House was in Committee of the Whole he did take 
part in a debate, but never with a set speech. 

Of his election to the Speakership of the Nineteenth Congress the 
paper in his home town of Ballston Spa had this to say : 

We felicitate the freemen of this county in the result of the choice of our hon- 
orable representative, Mr. John W. Taylor, as Speaker of the House of Kepre- 
sentatives of the United States. This is not alone a triumph over the machina- 
tions of Van Buren and the Crawford party, but it is a triumph of modest merit 
over a clan of political disorganizes, headed by the honorable Mr. Van Buren. 
Yes, freemen of Saratoga, the man of your choice has proved himself worthy of 
the high station of Speaker of the Nineteenth Congress of the United States. And 
what better evidence of his standing can you require "than that of his receiving 
the support of such a constellation of talent as compose this Congress? 

Mr. Taylor was to serve three more terms in the House, making a 
total service of twenty years. A strong effort was made by Van 
Buren and what was then known as the "Albany Regency" to defeat 
him for both the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Congresses, but his 
standing was too strong in his district for them to overcome. Through 
the efforts of Mr. Van Buren he was, however, prevented from being 
elected Speaker of the Twentieth Congress, It was not until the cam- 
paign for the Twenty-third Congress that the Albany Regency was 
able to keep him out of Congress. 

Retiring from Congress, Mr. Taylor once more devoted himself to 
the practice of law in Ballston Spa. In 1839 he finally severed his con- 
nection with the Democratic party and joined with the Whigs. As a 
Whig he was sent to the New York State Senate in 1840. This was 
destined to be his last public service. He suffered a stroke of paralysis, 
and in an effort to restore his health went to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1843, 
to make his home with a married daughter who lived in that city, 
There he died the next year. 

It was said of Mr. Taylor that he was a brilliant orator, a wis 
statesman, and a man of rare judgment. It was claimed for him thai 
he made the first speech in direct opposition to slavery ever made ii 
the House of Representatives. He was ardently opposed to the pecu 
liar institution. He was a pleasing speaker, never offending wit] 
harsh epithets or bitter words. Argumentative, and sometimes bril 
liantly eloquent, he was always listened to by whatever audience h 
addressed. He spoke logically and to the point, seldom wanderin 
away from the subject under discussion. He was born just as tb 
people were beginning the agitation for a "more perfect Union/' h 
lived until he reached the biblical age. He had witnessed the growt 
of the country, and died only a few years before the war came whic 
for a time threatened the perpetuity of the Union he so dearly love 


His public services were such as to- merit from his fellow-citizens the 
commendation, "Good and faithful servant." 

In private life he was retiring, fond of cultivating his garden. He 
hated corruption in politics, and his constituents always retained un- 
wavering confidence in his personal and political integrity, 

When the news of his death was received in his home town of Balls- 
ton Spa, a public meeting was held and a number of addresses were 
made by his fellow-citizens who had known him for so many years. A 
few extracts will amply suffice to show the high estimation in which 
he was held : 

The deceased, in his time, filled for many years a large space in the public eye, 

Among the many ditinguihed men of whom thin country can boast there has not 

been one who has held such high official position and whose name has been so 
widely and extensively known as the individual whom we are now about to follow 
to his grave. 

For twenty consecutive years he was continued by a confiding' constituency a 
member of the House a distinction which, if I mistake not, has in no other in- 
stance been attained by a Northern representative. At each Kuccensive election 
(with the exception of 1824) he encountered the most systematic, wdl-organiaed 
and powerful opposition; but he seemed to be enthroned in the hearts of the people 
of his district, and, as wan said of him by a contemporary, "ho wan cheered when 
he flourished, and strengthened when he fainted, as ncarce ever was a man be- 
fore/' His commanding abilities and national reputation, no doubt, contributed 
essentially to his home popularity; but the greatest secret of his MUCCCHS was a 
happy combination of rare social qualities seldom found united in the same indi- 
vidual. It was difficult to resist the fascination of MB polished manners and the 
charm of MB society and conversation. 


"pniLip PBNDLBTON BAKBQUK Speaker of the House of Ropresonta- 

JL tives In the Seventeenth Congress, Born in Orange County, Vir- 
ginia, May 25, 1783, Son of Thomas and Mary (Thomas) Burbour. 
Educated in the local schools and at William and Mary College. Mar- 
ried in October, 1804, Miss Frances Johnson. Died in Washington, 
February 25, 1841. 

A short sketch of Mr. Barbour printed in the historical papers of 
Randolph-Macon College opens, with the following pertinent sentences ; 

In the period following the War of 1812 both nationality and democracy ad- 
vanced with tremendous Btriden in the United States. The war had done two 
things; it had produced a new net of condition^ and had awakened a now Hpirit 
in the people. Perhapa the moat fateful of the new movements wan the rapid 
expansion of the Wont* Immigration was large, the territories were rapidly pre- 
pared for Htatohood, and the influence of the new conditions wan felt everywhere. 
Nationalism grew rapidly at the North and particularism at the South, which had 
already become a minority inaction, It wan in this period that the "Virginia 
Dynasty" ended its rul$ and that Virginia 8tatomen ceased to be powerful. Yet 
the long; line of her patriots wan not entirely ended Among thoe left wan Philip 
Pendleton Harbour, who continued -to follow the JeflTerHonian teaching**. 

Sixteenth and Nineteenth 


Seventeenth Congress 

iMitieth, Twenty-Ih'wt, Tw(iity- 
{4< v eon<l nn<l Tw<nty-third 

Jo UN 

Twenty-thi rl 


From very early times the Barbour family had been prominent in 
the affairs of Virginia. The father of the subject of this sketch was 
a leader in the House of Burgesses in the days before the war for inde- 
pendence, and was one of the signers of the famous non-importation 
agreement. Like nearly all of the Virginians of his day, this Thomas 
Barbour ever displayed lavish hospitality, and was in such an impov- 
erished condition that he could not give to his son, Philip Pendleton, 
the education he desired him to have. He did, however, send him to 
one of the local schools, where he displayed ability in gathering knowl- 
edge on all subjects, especially in languages. He studied law and chose 
Kentucky for the best forum in which to display his talents and make 
a name for himself. He only remained one year in the Blue Grass 
State and then returned to Virginia. 

On his return he entered William and Mary College, but financial 
necessities soon forced him to abandon the college and begin the prac- 
tice of law* He quickly won a high reputation in his chosen profession, 
especially as a lawyer in criminal cases. In 1812 he was elected a mem- 
ber of the General Assembly. He served two years, winning a place 
in the popular esteem* In 1814 he was elected to the National House 
of Representatives to fill an unexpired term. At that time Henry Clay 
and John C. Calhoun were the dominant figures in congressional life. 
Mr. Clay was just beginning his long contest for what he denominated 
the "American System/' The burden of the system was a tariff con- 
structed on the lines of protection to American industries. Against 
this system Mr, Barbour at once arrayed himself. Connected with his 
protection theory of the tariff Mr. Clay was pushing forward his great 
scheme of internal improvements. A part of this scheme was to apply 
the surplus in the treasury as a sort of bonus for the construction of 
canals and roads. 

Mr* Barbour opposed the whole scheme. He held that the better 
plan would be to apply the surplus in the treasury to the discharge of 
the public debt, but his opposition to the internal improvement scheme 
was baaed on the theory that it violated the rights of the States ; that 
the Federal Government could take cognizance of commerce with for- 
eign countries, and with those internal affairs which had been sub- 
mitted to Congress by the Constitution, but in all else the States 
should be left to act in their own discretion. 

Mr, Barbour served through six terms as a member of the House 
of Representatives, It was during a very stirring period for the coun- 
try- Slavery was beginning to be the troublesome question, first comr 
ing into grave prominence when Missouri knocked at the door for 
admission as a State in the Union. The story of the contest at that 
time has been so often told and retold that it is not necessary to repeat 
it here further than to state Mr. Harbour's attitude on the question. 
He was a firm believer in slavery as an institution beneficial to the 


South. More than that, he believed that under the Constitution any 
citizen had a right to take his property, no matter what its character 
might be, into any part of the country; that the country belonged to 
all the citizens, and by the Constitution was open alike to all citizens. 
Hence he favored the admission of Missouri with slavery. 

He opposed the compromise under which it was sought to limit the 
area open to slave labor. He held that the compromise was unconsti- 
tutional, contending that Congress could legally admit or reject a 
State, but had no right to impose conditions of any kind other than 
that its constitution should be republican in form. When a State was 
once admitted, he argued, it came into full possession of all the rights 
of a sovereignty, the same as exercised by the original States. If the 
people of a State admitted to the Union desired to have slavery, it was 
their right to establish that institution. 

In his view the compromise was unfair, as it would operate to grant 
to a citizen of the North the right to take all his property into the 
State, no matter what might be its character, but denied that right to a 
citizen of a Southern State. He also argued that the compromise was a 
violation of the treaty with France, whereby the territory west of the 
Mississippi River had been ceded to the United States. The treaty 
required the United States to protect the citizens of the ceded terri- 
tory in all the rights they then enjoyed. If the compromise prevailed, 
those rights would be taken from them. 

It is needless for the purpose of this sketch to follow Mr. Barbour 
closely through the six terms he served in the House. At all times he 
was a Democrat of the Jeffersonian school, and a defender of "States' 
rights" as taught by John C. Calhoun. He would limit the powers of 
the Federal Government to the strict letter of the Constitution, and 
that defined in the most narrow way. In this strict construction he 
even went beyond many of the other leaders of that school. A man 
of eminent ability, and possessing the power to express his views in 
the most forcible manner, he early exercised a wide influence in Con- 
gress, and with the Democratic party at large. 

He was elected Speaker of the House in the Seventeenth Congress. 
This was accomplished by uniting the opponents to the re-election of 
Representative Taylor, of New York. In the first balloting the name 
of Mr. Barbour was not presented. It developing that the opposition 
to Taylor could not be combined in favor of any of the candidates 
being voted for, Mr. Barbour was put forward. A partisan in the 
strictest sense of the word, he presided with impartiality and mate- 
rially strengthened his popularity with the members. 

In 1825 he resigned his seat in the House to accept a position as 
Judge of the General Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He 
did not hold that position very long, for the people of his district de- 


manded his services in Congress and re-elected him to the Twentieth 
and Twenty-first Congresses. 

In 1830 he finally retired from Congress with the reputation of 
being among the most logical of its debaters. Before his final retire- 
ment from Congress he had been a member of the convention called 
to formulate a new constitution for the State of Virginia. Former 
Presidents Madison and Monroe were also members of the convention, 
Monroe being its president. Mr. Monroe, owing to the state of his 
health, resigned the presidency, and Mr. Barbour was elected to that 

The tariff was a source of strife in the South, the "tariff of abomi- 
nations" being so obnoxious as to cause a feeling in favor of disunion 
in several parts of the South. Mr, Barbour in 1831 attended a meet- 
ing of the free-traders in Philadelphia. While expressing his dislike 
to the tariff law then on the statute books, he declared his devotion to 
the Union. 

It has been said by the friends of Mr. Barbour that he was offered, 
on several occasions, a Cabinet seat, but always declined, as he did the 
race for governor of the State when tendered him. In 1830 President 
Jackson gave him the appointment as Judge of the United States 
Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a position for which he was 
eminently qualified. In 1832 at the Democratic National Convention 
he was voted for by the delegates from several of the Southern States 
for vice-president in opposition to Van Buren. The attempt failed, 
but his friends still hoped to defeat Van Buren. Their scheme was to 
have the electors of several of the States cast their votes for Mr. Bar- 
bour for vice-president and thus throw the final election into the Sen- 
ate. The scheme failed. 

In 1836 President Jackson gave Mr. Barbour an appointment as 
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. On the bench he was as 
decided a strict constructionist as he had been in Congress, and just 
at that time the strict constructionists had a majority in the court. 

He did not live long after his appointment, serving only about five 
years. His death was sudden and unexpected. On the night before 
his death he was in conference with the other members of the court. 
At the time of his leaving the consultation room he was, apparently, in 
the best of health. His non-appearance the next morning caused in- 
quiry, and a messenger was sent to his room. He was found lying in 
a perfectly natural and easy position, but had evidently been dead for 
some hours. 

Mr. Benton, in his "Thirty Years' View," thus gives his estimate of 
Mr. Barbour: 

I was intimate with. Mr. Philip P. Barbour during the twenty-one winters which 
his duties either as a representative in Congress or Justice of the Supreme Court 
required him to be at Washington. He was a man worthy of the best days of the 


republic modest, virtuous, pure; artless as a child; full of domestic affections; 
patriotic; filially devoted to Virginia, Ms native State, and a friend of the Union 
from conviction and sentiment. He had a clear mind; close, logical and effective 
method of speaking; copious without diffusion; and always speaking to the sub- 
ject, both with knowledge and sincerity, he was always listened to with favor. 
... He had the death which knows no pain, and which, to the body, is sleep with- 
out waking. He was in attendance upon the Supreme Court, in good health and 
spirits, and had done Ms part the night before in one of the conferences which 
the labors of the Supreme Bench imposes almost nightly on the learned judges. 
In the morning he was supposed by his servant to be sleeping late, and finally 
going to Ms bedside found Mm dead the face all serene and composed, not a 
feature or muscle disturbed, the body and limbs in their easy, natural posture. 
It was evident that the machinery of life had stopped of itself, and without a 
shock. . . . 

Judge Barbour was a Virginia country gentleman, after the most perfect model 
of that most respectable class living on his ample estate, baronially, with his 
family, Ms slaves, Ms flocks and herds all well cared for by himself, and happy 
in his care. A lawyer by profession, a politican, of course dividing his time be- 
tween Ms estate, his library, his professional and Ms public duties scrupulously 
attentive to Ms duties in alL ... A friend to order and economy in his private 
life, he carried the same noble qualities into Ms public stations, and did his part 
to administer the Government with the simplicity and purity which its fathers 
intended for it. 

The appointment of Mr. Barbour as an Associate Justice was viewed 
with disfavor in the North, owing to his pronounced views as to the 
powers of the central government. John Quincy Adams, in his diary, 
made this note in regard to the report of his possible appointment: 
"The terror is that some shallow-pated wildcat like Philip P. Barbour, 
fit for nothing but to tear the Union to rags and tatters, will be ap- 

His actions on the Bench proved to be a delightful surprise to those 
who feared his appointment. He was fair, impartial, and upright. 


A NDEEW STEVENSON Speaker of the House of Representatives in 
-** the Twentieth, Twenty-first, Twenty-second and Twenty-third 
Congresses. Born in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1784. Son of Rev. 
John and Frances Arnet (Littlepage) Stevenson. Educated by private 
tutors. Married Miss Mary Page White, Miss Mary Schaff. Died in 
Albemarle County, Virginia, June 25, 1857. 

It is difficult to rightly estimate such a man as Andrew Stevenson 
was. He served the public for many years, first in the legislature of 
Virginia, then in the House of Representatives at Washington, where 
he was four times elected Speaker of the House, and later as Minister 
to Great Britain. 

Pursuing his classical studies, he at the same time studied law, and 
on being admitted to the bar practiced that profession in Richmond. 


So far as can be judged from the record and what little has been said 
by his co-temporaries, he was a successful practitioner, but not a pro- 
found lawyer. In his twelve years of service in the House of Repre- 
sentatives he originated no great or important scheme of legislation, 
though he was prompt in attention to the duties of the position. As 
Speaker of the House he was always dignified, and although a strict 
partisan, was, in the main, impartial and just in his rulings. He was 
always popular with his fellow-members of all parties. Much of this 
was due to his unfailing courtesy of demeanor. 

Little is known of his early life. His own opportunities for educa- 
tion were limited, and throughout his long public life he displayed deep 
interest in the cause of education. He possessed an extensive knowl- 
edge of the English common law, and, as it largely prevailed in Vir- 
ginia at the time he entered upon the practice, was ever ready to quote 
from it when making an argument before a court or a jury. It has 
been said of him that he always prepared his cases with the utmost 
care, and never went into the trial of a cause until he had mastered it 
in all its bearing. As a criminal lawyer he was decidedly successful. 
He was regarded as a brilliant speaker, with a ready command of lan- 
guage, and had that florid style which has always been effective before 
a jury. 

Being a Virginian, his mind naturally turned very early to politics. 
He was born a few years before the establishment of our constitu- 
tional government, and was just reaching manhood when the people 
divided into two strong parties one under the leadership of Hamilton 
and the other under Jefferson. He united his political fortunes with 
the followers of Jefferson, and became one of the strictest of the 
"strict constructionists." From that he never departed. He lived and 
served in troublous times, when slavery was agitating the country, 
North and South; when the United States Bank was the object of 
assault by the "strict constructionists"; when our foreign relations 
were strained to the breaking point with both France and England, 
and when the tariff for a time threatened to disrupt the Union. 

In 1809, when he was twenty-five years of age, he was elected by 
the people of Richmond to serve them in the Virginia House of Dele- 
gates. With the exception of a very short intermission he remained 
a member of the House of Delegates until 1821, serving as Speaker 
during several sessions. There were not very many things of great 
importance pending before the House of Delegates at the time he be- 
came a member of that body, and, in fact, not until war with Great 
Britain came. Perhaps the most important was the question agitating 
Congress in 1811, that of re-chartering the United States Bank. 

Being so strict a "strict constructionist," Mr. Stevenson took a deep 
interest in that question, and although it was a matter wholly within 
the province of Congress and not before the Virginia House of Dele- 


gates, Mr. Stevenson thought to influence the action of Congress by 
having the House of Delegates express an opinion. To that end he 
introduced a resolution instructing the Senators from Virginia, and 
requesting the Kepresentatives to "use their best efforts in opposing 
by every means in their power the establishment of a National Bank 
under any form whatsoever/' 

The resolution was adopted by a large vote, as the House of Dele- 
gates was strongly of the political school of Mr. Stevenson. As is 
known to historical students, the bill to recharter the bank failed in 
Congress, Not many years were to elapse, however, when the South 
began to wish for a return of the uniform and stable currency which 
had been supplied by the bank. 

During the session of the House of Delegates that year Richmond 
was visited by a calamity so awful as to call for sympathy from nearly 
all the civilized world. A new play was offered at the theater, and the 
auditorium was filled to its utmost capacity with the best of the city, 
the Governor of the State and members of the Legislature being in 
the audience. Suddenly a cry of fire arose. A stampede followed, and 
when the ruins of the burnt building were cleared away, seventy-five 
dead bodies told of the toll of life taken in the stampede. Among the 
dead were the Governor of the State and a sister of Mr. Stevenson. 
The death of the Governor necessitated the election of his successor 
by the Legislature. The choice fell on James Barbour, Speaker of the 
Houses of Delegates. This left a vacancy in the Speakership. To that 
vacant place Mr. Stevenson was elevated. 

A split now came in the party. One of the Senators from Virginia 
refused to obey the instructions to vote against a recharter of the 
bank, and voted for it. The other Senator obeyed the instruc- 
tions, but vehemently denounced them. This aroused the House of 
Delegates, and that body adopted a resolution severely censuring the 
recalcitrant Senators. As was to be expected, Mr. Stevenson ardently 
advocated the resolution of censure. Matters of great moment now 
began to press on the attention of legislators throughout the country. 
Diplomacy had failed to bring this country and Great Britain into 
accord, and war was being demanded by the younger element in and 
out of Congress. The Virginia House of Delegates was in favor of 
war, as is shown by the following resolutions which were adopted after 
much speechmaking, in which Mr. Stevenson took a prominent part : 

Resolved, as the opinion of this Assembly, that however highly we value the 
blessings of peace, and however we may deprecate the evils of war, the period 
has now arrived when peace, as we now have it, is disgraceful, and war is hon- 

Eesolved, that this Assembly will support the general government in all con- 
stitutional and legitimate measures which may be adopted in vindication of the 


rights and interests of the people of the United States and in support of the 
character and dignity of the government thereof, and for these purposes we 
pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. 

Thus Virginia, under the leadership of Andrew Stevenson and others 
of his kind, was among the first of the States to declare in favor of 
war for "Free trade, and sailors' rights." A few of the Virginians 
opposed the war. One of those was the eccentric John Randolph, but 
Virginia, through her legislative body, had spoken. Madison was a 
candidate to succeed himself, and was duly returned by a fair majority 
of the electoral vote. He was a timid man, but now began active 
and earnest preparations for the coming war, which all saw must come 
sooner or later. What took place during the war and how it was 
brought to a close it is not necessary here to state. It is enough to 
record that Andrew Stevenson, the subject of this sketch, gave all his 
power and his influence to sustain his State and the general govern- 
ment in the vigorous prosecution of the war. 

Mr. Stevenson became an active candidate for Representative in the 
Fourteenth Congress. His opponent was John Tyler, afterward Pres- 
ident. The race was a close one, Tyler winning by a majority of less 
than fifty votes. Mr. Stevenson was a candidate again at the next 
election, but was again defeated, Mr. Tyler increasing very largely his 
majority. In 1821 Tyler declined another nomination and recom- 
mended Mr. Stevenson for his successor. In the meantime Mr. Steven- 
son again became a member of the Virginia Assembly. 

By this time the admission of Missouri as a State in the Union be- 
came one of the leading issues. The story of how the South demanded 
the right to take their property in slaves into any territory of the 
United States, and how this was resisted by the North, with the 
eventual outcome of what is known as the "Missouri Compromise," 
has often been told and retold. 

Mr. Stevenson introduced and advocated a resolution by the Vir- 
ginia Assembly declaring that the people of Missouri had a right to 
enter the Union under the agreement by which Louisiana was ceded 
to the United States, with no restrictions placed upon them. 

The compromise was already forcing itself upon the minds of the 
people, and although he opposed it at first, Mr. Stevenson realized that 
if the Union was to be preserved, the compromise was necessary. This 
stand he repeatedly emphasized. 

Mr. Stevenson was elected to the Eighteenth Congress. His maiden 
speech was in opposition to a proposed bankrupt law. As an advocate 
of States' rights, of course Mr. Stevenson opposed the bill. The tariff 
again became a dividing factor, the members from the Southern States 
in the main opposing Clay's American system, that of protection. In 
this they were for a time joined by a few of the members from the 


North. The debate continued for many weeks, all the leaders taking 
part in it on one side or the other. Mr. Stevenson was opposed to the 
system and made several speeches against it. 

Another of Mr. Clay's pet hobbies was under serious discussion, that 
of a vast system of internal improvements, and against this Mr, Ste- 
venson also arrayed himself. While these questions were agitating 
both Houses of Congress, that of finding a successor to President Mon- 
roe came to trouble the members. In those days the party candidate 
for President and Vice-President was named by a congressional 
caucus. Before this caucus Mr. Crawford, Secretary of the Treasury, 
was the leading candidate. Mr. Stevenson attended the caucus and 
cast his vote for Crawford for President, and Gallatin for Vice-Presi- 
dent. The selection of a President finally fell to the lot of the House, 
when John Quincy Adams was chosen. 

Mr- Stevenson followed the example set by Mr. Clay when he was 
Speaker of the House, and frequently joined in the debates when the 
House was in Committee of the Whole. He did this on every occasion 
when he thought the rights of the States were being invaded, or when 
slavery was the topic. He was a speaker of much force and always 
commanded a hearing by his fellow-members. If he was extreme at 
all, it was only when his peculiar views of the powers of the general 
government were in question. Perhaps the phrase "peculiar views" 
is too narrow, for in those views he was joined by a majority of the 
members from the South. They were the views prevalent in Virginia, 
where the spirit of Jefferson still ruled in political thought. 

The Twentieth Congress assembled December 3, 1827. It was des- 
tined to be a stormy session. Mr. Stevenson was put forward as a 
candidate for Speaker, his opponent being John W. Taylor, of New 
York, who had been Speaker during the preceding Congress. Mr. 
Stevenson had now been a member of the House for four years. His 
pleasing address and his known advocacy of the extreme Southern 
view made him the popular candidate, and he was duly elected. 

As was usual with Speakers-elect on taking the chair, he made a 
short speech, promising, as all others had done, to devote himself 
zealously to the discharge of the duties of his high office, and to rule 
with impartiality. For the first time in the political history of the 
country both Houses of Congress were in opposition to the President. 
In naming his committees he gave the Jackson men the preference, 
in fact, giving them a majority on all the committees. Thus he placed 
the House in direct hostility to President Adams. It promised ill for 
the President. 

The operations of the existing tariff law were not satisfactory to 
the South, in fact, had awakened in that section a most bitter antag- 
onism. South Carolina was already talking about nullifying the law, 
and grave fears for the perpetuity of the Union were manifested in 


many sections of the country. This was the condition when General 
Jackson was elected President. This election operated to bring about 
a better feeling throughout the country, but South Carolina was still 
sullen and discontented. 

Mr. Stevenson had reason to hope he would be invited to a seat in 
the cabinet of the new President, and was seriously disappointed that 
a seat was not off ered him. Mr. Stevenson was elected Speaker in the 
Twenty-first Congress and again in the Twenty-second. Mr. Benton 
has declared that the Twenty-second Congress was the most violent 
in the history of the country. Each side was Intent on revising the 
tariff, those of Mr. Stevenson's party were intent on a downward re- 
vision, while the others were equally intent on having the revision 
upward, with more pronounced protective features than ever before. 

When the Twenty-second Congress met and Mr. Stevenson was 
again elected Speaker, he found trouble awaiting him in the f ormation 
of his committees. Ex-President John Quincy Adams was a member 
of this House. Where to place him in committee awards was one of 
great delicacy. His long experience in diplomatic affairs, having rep- 
resented the country as Minister to several of the European countries, 
and his eight years as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President 
Monroe, naturally made the Committee on Foreign Affairs a proper 
place for him. Speaker Stevenson finally solved the question by mak- 
ing him Chairman of the Committee on Manufactures. 

As chairman of that committee Mr. Adams reported a tariff bill. 
Mr. Stevenson did not like the bill and endeavored to kill it, but it 
passed the House by a large vote. The bill failed to produce the good 
results hoped for it, especially in the South. It brought about the 
passage of a nullification act by the Legislature of South Carolina. 

Mr. Stevenson now came out with great strength against the right 
of a State to nullify an act of Congress. He did not do this in speeches 
on the floor of the House, but by a series of newspaper articles. He 
also declared that a State had no right to secede from the Union, as 
South Carolina had threatened to do. 

This attitude of Speaker Stevenson was especially pleasing to Presi- 
dent Jackson. A new tariff bill was introduced, but early it became 
evident it could not be passed. The President asked for the passage 
of a "force bill," giving him authority to call out the army to enforce 
the laws of Congress. The introduction of this bill operated to cool 
the ardor of the nullifiers, and they agreed to suspend operations tem- 
porarily. It was then that Mr. Clay came forward with his "compro- 
mise tariff bill." It passed both Houses, but was accompanied by the 
force bill. 

In the Twenty-third Congress Mr. Stevenson won the Speakership 
for the fourth time, but it was by one vote only. The opposition had 
been growing stronger, and his power was waning. During the first 


session riot prevailed much of the time, and the Speaker was forced 
to call the House to order almost daily. The fight against the United 
States Bank was on with all its violence. The bill to re-charter the 
bank passed both Houses. The friends of the President were afraid 
that if he should veto it his election as his own successor would be in 
danger. Speaker Stevenson was not one of the fearful class. One of his 
biographers publishes a part of a letter he wrote at that time to his 
wife. It reads : "The bank charter will pass, I have no doubt, but will be 
vetoed by the Old Pole Cat! If he meets it, as I have no doubt he will, 
it will surround him with a blaze of glory! An evidence of moral power 
almost unprecedented! . . . Mark what I say: Gen. J. was never 
stronger, and if he vetoes the bank, instead of it weakening him, it 
will give him greater strength," 

Early in 1834 Mr. Stevenson became afflicted with a serious trouble 
of the liver. He suffered to such an extent that he resigned from his 
seat in the House and retired to private life. He had served in the 
House for thirteen sessions and had been Speaker during seven years. 
They were eventful years in the political history of the country, wit- 
nessing many of the most important events. His nomination as Min- 
ister to England had been sent to the Senate prior to his resignation 
from the House. This position had been vacant for some time. The 
Senate rejected the nomination of Mr. Stevenson by a vote of twenty- 
three to twenty-two. It was charged against him that in naming his 
committees in the House he had done so to curry favor with the 
President in order to secure the diplomatic position to which he had 
been named. The President attempted to explain matters, but the 
Senate refused to give credence to the explanation. President Jackson 
then refused to make another nomination, thus leaving the Minister- 
ship vacant. 

Mr. Stevenson visited the springs of Virginia in search for health, 
finally fully recovering. When the Democratic National Convention 
met in Baltimore in 1836, Mr. Stevenson presided over its delibera- 
tions. He was a warm advocate of the nomination of Mr. Van Buren, 
and used the power and influence as president of the convention to 
bring that nomination about. 

The nomination of Mr. Stevenson as Minister to England was finally 
confirmed, and he was in London during the campaign which resulted 
in the election of Mr. Van Buren as President. He was in London 
when Queen Victoria ascended the throne as successor to her uncle, 
William IV. He seems to have made a favorable impression on the 
British Ministry as well as upon Queen Victoria. He remained in Lon- 
don until the election of William Henry Harrison as President brought 
about his recall. This ended his political life. 



JOHN BELL Speaker of the House of Representatives in the second 
session of the Twenty-third Congress. Born near Nashville, Ten- 
nessee, February 15, 1797. Educated at Cumberland College, Tennes- 
see. Died at Cumberland Iron \York, September 10, 1869. 

John Bell had a distinguished, though stormy, political career. First 
a Democrat and follower of Andrew Jackson, he became one of the 
founders of the Whig party, and when that party died, after its defeat 
in 1852, he ranked as a leader in the Constitutional-Union party, and 
in 1860 was its candidate for President. 

He was born on a farm in what then was almost an unbroken wilder- 
ness. It was in what was then the backwoods of Tennessee. His father 
was in moderate circumstances, but a firm believer in education, and 
carefully prepared his young son to enter college, which he did, and 
graduated at the age of seventeen. It has been said of him that he 
was an attentive student, ranking high in his classes. It was supposed 
he would follow in the footsteps of his father and spend his life as an 
agriculturist, but the young man had other views. He was ambitious 
and looked upon the profession of law as the best opening into the life 
he aspired to enter. Leaving college, he entered the office of a lawyer 
to be trained in that profession. He quickly mastered enough of the 
science to secure admission to the bar. He chose Franklin for his' 
future home, and there began the practice. 

It is hard to estimate rightly such a character as John BelL He was 
a man of marked ability and such amiable manners as to soon win 
popularity with the people. He was a friend and, for a number of 
years, a follower of Andrew Jackson, yet they differed so greatly on 
some piatters that an estrangement followed. He opposed strenuously 
the action of President Jackson in ordering the removal of the deposits, 
and later his issue of the famous "Specie Circular/' He was a friend 
of the United States Bank, yet refused to vote for a renewal of its 
charter. His alleged reasons for such a course was that he was sure 
the President would veto the bill if passed, and that it had a political 
look he did not like. He was an admirer of Calhoun, yet opposed his 
nullification schemes, and voted for the "Enforcement Act." At first 
he was opposed to protection in tariff matters, but later became one 
of its ardent champions. He was opposed to secession, yet when war 
came opposed coercion. He was not a great statesman, but was gen- 
erally a safe legislator. 

As a lawyer he quickly won his way at the bar, but from the very 
first gave much of his time to politics. He was but nineteen when 
admitted to the bar, and within a year was elected to the Tennessee 
Senate. He had not reached mature years. After serving one term 
he declined a renomination, and for ten years applied himself pretty 


closely to the practice of his profession, making friends, however, in 
every direction. He was urged to stand as a candidate for Congress 
in 1827, and after some consideration agreed to do so. The opposing 
candidate was Felix Grundy, one of the great men of Tennessee and 
a favorite of Jackson. Grundy was one of the quartet of young mem- 
bers who forced the reluctant Madison to advise Congress to declare 
war against Great Britain. He had been a very popular man with the 
masses, and, as has been said, was a favorite of Jackson, who was then 
looming up for the presidency. 

A very bitter campaign followed, yet such was the popularity of 
Bell, and so strong did he prove himself to be on the stump, that he 
was triumphantly elected. He entered the Twentieth Congress. It 
was the last Congress under the presidency of the younger Adams. 
All Tennessee had been in a fever over the defeat of Jackson in his 
first race, and it was a distinctive mark in the history of Mr. Bell that 
he could win against the wishes of the hero of the Hermitage. At 
once there sprang up a rivalry between Bell and James K. Polk, who 
a few years later became President. 

At that time the question of selling the stock owned by the govern- 
ment in the United States Bank was under discussion. This he 
strongly opposed, thus showing the independent character of the new 
member. He also early in his congressional career took strong grounds 
against the system of internal improvements, then so urgently favored 
by Mr. Clay. He was willing for the construction of roads, but saw a 
constitutional objection to the building of canals by the Government. 
He was so successful in his first term that he was re-elected almost 
without opposition. He took an active part in almost all the debates. 
Of his powers in that direction Mr. Benton, in his "Thirty Years' 
View," said he "was a forcible speaker and always ready for debate. 
His resources seemed inexhaustible; he was a master of invective." 

He served fourteen years in the House, two under the administra- 
tion of John Quincy Adams, eight under Jackson, and four under Van 
Buren. They were exciting terms. The overthrow of the United 
States Bank, the nullification attempt in South Carolina, and the estab- 
lishment of a sub-treasury system were the exciting issues, while the 
tariff and internal improvement questions played a very important 

Mr. Bell strongly opposed the removal of the deposits from the bank 
as ordered by the President. He held, in several speeches, that such 
removal was contrary to the Constitution. There had been some fric- 
tion between him and the President before that, but the final parting 
of the ways came then. Mr. Bell was in favor of the bank, but when 
the question of granting a re-charter came to a head, he voted against 
it, this, as he declared, not because he was opposed to the bank, but 
because its passage would be profitless as the President would surely 


veto it, and because he believed the request for a re-charter was a 
political movement intended to embarrass the administration. 

He had entered public life as a warm admirer of Calhoun, and at 
first had stood his friend when differences arose between Calhoun and 
President Jackson. When South Carolina, at the instigation, as it 
was believed, of Mr. Calhoun, sought to nullify the tariff act passed 
by Congress, Mr. Bell supported President Jackson, and warmly advo- 
cated the enactment of what is known as the "Enforcement Bill/' a 
bill giving the President abundant power to enforce obedience to any 
act of Congress. This estranged him from Calhoun, and they never 
became reconciled. He supported the compromise tariff bill of Mr. 
Clay, and ever afterward was a friend to what Clay called his " Amer- 
ican system," a system of framing tariff laws so as to furnish protec- 
tion to American industries. 

He was a friend to economy in the administration of public affairs, 
and took every opportunity to enforce his views on the House. He 
was also a great stickler for the dignity and prerogatives of the House, 
especially as to the appropriation of money. On one occasion the 
House had incorporated in one of its appropriation bills a provision 
that any surplus there might remain in the treasury at the end of the 
year should be distributed among the States. The Senate struck out 
the provision, and in conference refused to recede from the position 
it had taken. Mr. Bell discussed the question at great length, saying 
among other things : 

The question is one of vast magnitude, of the greatest importance, and con- 
nected directly with the permanent interest and welfare of the whole country. We 
have now to decide whether this, the popular branch of the National Legislature, 
whether we, the representatives of the people, to whom the Constitution has in- 
trusted in an especial manner the guardianship and the duty of preserving the 
public treasure, shall surrender up our trust, abandon our own views of public 
duty, and conform to the wishes of the Senate. A principle of deep interest is 
thus involved in this question besides that of mere expediency. In relation to the 
particular measure under consideration, can anyone doubt the line of duty thus 
plainly marked out to us? Are we not bound in justice to ourselves, in justice 
to the Constitution and to the best interests of the country, firmly to adhere to 
our first resolve? Upon the point of expediency, whatever doubt may have ex- 
isted in the minds of any, whether there would be a surplus of any considerable 
amount at the end of the year, when this proposition was first submitted, surely 
now, since the land bill has been laid upon the table, and not the slightest prospect 
remains of reviving it at the present session, there is no longer any ground of 
uncertainty as to that question. All must now admit not only that there will be 
a surplus, but that it will be a very large one,- and the question is now presented, 
and must be decided by the vote which we are about to take, whether the fifteen 
or twenty millions in the Treasury, over and above the demands of the public 
service, will be more secure when deposited with and distributed among the sev- 
eral States of the Union, or in State banks over which we have no control, whose 
condition at this moment is inflated, uncertain, and perilous in the highest degree. 
Those who think the States less safe and trustworthy than the numerous State 
banks which hold the public moneys in deposit will, of course, be against us. 


Another great question is presented, and must be decided by our present action. 
It is, whether we shall suffer a surplus revenue, the unavoidable and unforeseen 
result of past legislation, to remain in the National Treasury to tempt the next 
Congress, as it has done the present one, to swell the expenditures of the Govern- 
ment in a degree and in a manner wholly inconsistent with every idea of economy. 
I do not intend to enter further into the argument. I have observed, at another 
step of the progress of this measure, that I considered the argument, both for and 
against, fully before the country; and I conclude by moving that the House do 
insist upon its disagreement to the Senate's amendment. 

It was the old and ever recurring fight between the House and the f 
Senate over which body holds the purse strings of the Government. 
It has been attended several times with very angry debates. The 
public long ago found out that while the House proposes, it is the 
Senate which disposes. 

As the second term of President Jackson drew toward its close the 
question of a successor began to disturb the public. It was known, 
and was frequently advertised, that the President would insist that 
his faithful follower, Mr. Van Buren, should be chosen. This did not 
meet with favor in all parts of the country. Mr. Bell took another 
road, and gave his support to Hugh L. White, of Tennessee. This 
aroused the wrath of the President, and he let it be known that any 
supporter of White would, for all future time, be persona non grata 
at the seat of power. This did not disturb Mr. Bell. He had an inde- 
pendent way of doing business. About that time Speaker Stevenson 
announced that he intended to resign the Speakership, and did so re- 
sign, leaving his successor to be chosen at the second session of the 
Twenty-third Congress. Several aspirants appeared for the vacancy, 
among them being Representative Wilde, of Georgia ; James K. Polk, 
and Mr. Bell, of Tennessee. It was a stubborn contest and required 
a number of ballots before it was decided. On the first three ballots 
Mr. Wilde led, and then Mr. Polk forged ahead for three ballots. It 
was a clear fight between the friends and opponents of Van Buren, 
and the opponents finally won, Mr. Bell receiving a majority on the 
tenth ballot. The disagreement between Mr. Bell and President Jack- 
son had reached a climax some time before, but Bell's success in this 
instance aroused the old Hero to renewed wrath. 

Usually the Speaker on taking the chair confines his remarks to a 
few words of thanks, but Mr. Bell departed from this custom and let 
out a little of the virus that was in him. As an illustration of the 
character of the man, the speech is worth reproducing. He said : 

With the greatest sincerity I declare to you that, although I am duly and grate- 
fully impressed by this mark of partiality and confidence of the House, and by no 
means insensible to the distinction intended to be conferred on me, it is not with- 
out some distrust of the wisdom of my course in accepting this station which your 
choice has assigned me. Without the slightest experience in the chair, it may be 
justly apprehended that your selection of a presiding officer has been too much 
influenced by personal kindness and friendship. And I shall be quite happy if the 


public interest shall suffer no detriment through a defective administration of the 
duties of the chair. In ordinary times, under ordinary circumstances, I could 
natter myself that, by diligent application, I might be able, in a short time, to 
supply the want of experience, and to justify in some degree the confidence indi- 
cated by the House. That more than usual embarrassments must be encountered 
at this moment by an incumbent of the chair will be admitted by all. The im- 
patience, not to say irritation the natural result of a protracted session the 
excitement growing out of those sharp conflicts of opinion upon questions of public 
policy conflicts exasperated and embittered at the present moment in an extraor- 
dinary degree all present themselves to increase the difficulties and call forth the 
exertions of a new and unpracticed incumbent of the chair. And I feel, gentle- 
men, that whatever exertions may be made on my part must be in vain without 
your forbearance nay, that they must fail altogether, without your cordial sup- 
port and cooperation. When I reflect how great are the interests connected with 
this House, its character and action interests not of a day nor of a party, but of 
all time, of posterity, and of all the parties which are or ever will be arrayed 
against each other and when I further reflect how much the character and action 
of this House depends upon a skilful, firm, and impartial administration of the 
duties of this chair, I confess I feel the deepest solicitude. 

It is not so generally understood, I regret to believe, as it should be, in how 
great a degree the measures of a legislative assembly are modified and influenced 
by the manner of its deliberations. All will concede that if it shall ever happen 
that this body shall fall into disrepute, and fail to command the respect and con- 
fidence of the people, our institutions will be in the greatest peril. Not only the 
character of the House, the wisdom and efficiency of its actions, but the existence 
of our admirable frame of polity itself may be said to depend, in some degree, 
upon the order and dignity of the deliberations of this House. While, then, I en- 
treat the indulgence of the House to my own defects, I earnestly invoke the assist- 
ance of every member of it in endavoring to maintain and preserve, so far as de- 
pends upon the proceedings of this body, those great and primary interests of 
constitutional government and freedom, in support of which, I am sure, whatever 
difference of opinion there may be on points of construction, policy, of adminis- 
tration, there is not a heart here, nor an American heart anywhere, that does not 
beat high. 

As Speaker, Mr. Bell was firm, and sometimes disposed to be arbi- 
trary. His old party associates were hurling- charges of party treason 
against him, and such charges naturally irritated him. He had en- 
deavored to defeat Van Buren for the presidential nomination, but had 
failed. He was, however, successful in preventing Van Buren getting 
the electoral vote of Tennessee. This was a great triumph, proving 
beyond question the strength and popularity of Bell in his own State. 
Van Buren was the choice of Jackson, and Jackson was regarded as 
the idol of Tennessee. 

Mr. Bell served as Speaker for the one session only. When the 
Twenty-fourth Congress assembled Van Buren was President, and his 
friends were in a majority in the House. Bell was again a candidate, 
opposing his old enemy, James K. Polk, but this time Polk was the 
winner. Polk, like Van Buren, was a protege of Jackson. On the 
floor of the House Mr. Bell very early began to make trouble for the 
Van Buren administration. Van Buren's distribution of the patronage 


did not suit Mr. Bell, and day after day he kept flinging hot darts at 
the sage of Kinderhook, but the sage was impervious to attack. All 
he wanted was to get the votes for his pet measures, and in a large 
degree he was successful in that direction until near the close of Jhis 
term. Attacks neither angered nor annoyed him. Before it came time 
to nominate a successor to Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Bell was permanently 
out of the Democratic party. He was an announced Whig, a follower 
of Henry Clay. Van Buren was nominated and defeated at the polls 
in that wonderful "Hard Cider" campaign. This defeat brought a 
change in the official life of Mr. Bell 

Before his inauguration General Harrison, President-elect, tendered 
to Mr. Bell a seat in his Cabinet as Secretary of War. His services in 
the Cabinet were short, too short for him to make a record as an 
administrative officer. The death of President Harrison just a month 
after his inauguration brought John Tyler into the presidency. Tyler 
had been named for Vice-President by the same party which nomi- 
nated Harrison for President, and on the same platform. He had 
hardly taken his seat as head of the nation than he began to turn 
away from the party which had elected him, and to accept the policies 
of the Democrats. This caused his cabinet to resign, all but Webster, 
who remained at the head of the Department of State until he could 
conclude a treaty then being negotiated with Great Britain. 

Retiring from the Cabinet, Mr. Bell returned to Tennessee and de- 
voted himself to the practice of his profession. In 1847 Mr. Bell was 
elected to the United States Senate, and re-elected, serving twelve 
years. They were years of monentous interests to the country at 
large. Slavery was fast becoming the dominating issue. The war 
with Mexico had ended, and although the Whigs had elected their 
candidate for President, factions soon began to show in the party 
ranks. Peace with Mexico brought a long trail of disputes as to what 
should be done with the territory obtained by the peace. Texas was 
already a slave State, but there were other parts in which slavery did 
not exist, could not exist under the Mexican laws. . 

Abolition societies were being organized in many of the Northern 
States. The South demanded a new and more stringent law providing 
for the return of escaping slaves, and such a law was finally enacted, 
setting fire to the North. It was signed by President Fillmore, who 
had succeeded to that office on the death of President Taylor. It split 
the Whig party. Threats of disunion were freely indulged in. Mr. 
Bell stood steadfastly for the Union, and delivered in the Senate sev- 
eral speeches in which he announced his devotion to the Union and his 
abhorence of secession. Following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave 
Law came the eff ort to repeal the Missouri Compromise, and the estab- 
lishment of what was known as "Squatter Sovereignty." 

JAMES K. POLK, Tennessee 

Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth 


R. M. T. HUNTER, Virginia 
Twenty-sixth Congress 

JOHN WHITE, Kentucky 
Twenty-seventh Congress 

JOHN W. JONES, Virginia 
Twenty-eighth Congress 


Mr. Bell opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, as he did 
the Squatter Sovereignty policy of Mr. Douglas. A Southern man, he 
believed that the faith of the nation, as pledged in that Compromise, 
should be religiously observed. On every question in which slavery 
was involved he took a moderate course, contending that the North 
would not tolerate any action which would endanger the interests of 
the South, and that there were no grounds for a dissolution of the 

The Whig party had disappeared as a potential political factor after 
its disastrous defeat in 1852. The new Republican party was making 
headway in the North ; the Democratic party had split over the Kansas 
question, those opposing slavery organizing under the name of "Free 
Soil Democrats." Disunion was looming up, and lovers of the Union 
undertook to form a new party, and assumed the hyphenated name of 
"Constitutional-Union" party. Its motto was: "The Constitution as 
it is ; the Union as it was." Under that banner they prepared to enter 
the campaign in 1860. 

The Democratic party presented two candidates : Breckinridge, the 
candidate of the Southern wing, and Douglas, as the candidate of the 
Northern wing. The Constitutional-Union party held a convention 
and nominated as its candidates John Bell for President and Edward 
Everett for Vice-President, 

The ticket carried three States with an electoral vote of thirty. It 
had no possible chance from the beginning of the campaign. The 
feeling in both North and South was wrought to too high a pitch for 
neutrals to accomplish anything. Mr. Bell made a number of speeches, 
but in none that was published was there any of the old fire that had 
distinguished him in other campaigns. He was for the Union if it 
could be maintained with peace. He was opposed to disunion, but was 
not favorable to preventing disunion by force bf arms. 

The war came ;. some of the Southern States seceded, among them 
his own State of Tennessee. During it all he remained without taking 
any part. He lived to see the Union restored and a citizen of his own 
State, Andrew Johnson, President. 


JAMES KNOX POLK Speaker of the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth 
Congresses. Born in Mecklenburg, North Carolina, November 2, 
1795. Son of Samuel and Jane (Knox) Polk. Educated at University 
of North Carolina. Married, January 1, 1824, Miss Sarah Childress. 
Died in Nashville, Tennessee, June 15, 1849. 

A Representative in Congress for fourteen years, four of which he 
was Speaker of the House; Governor of Tennessee, and President of 
the United States, yet the name and career of James K. Polk is almost 


entirely lost to the American people, except in a few pages in history. 
It was a career of high official positions, yet almost colorless. He 
originated no great policy, and when he undertook to discuss any pol- 
icy, his speeches left the hearer in doubt as to whether he favored or 
opposed the measure under consideration. It seemed difficult for him 
to ever come to a direct and positive decision on any question. 

He was born in the little town where America's first declaration of 
independence was formulated and given to the public. His father was 
a plain but industrious farmer. His mother was a descendant of that 
rare old theological gladiator, John Knox, the "thorn in the flesh" and 
tormentor of Queen Mary. As a boy James was not of strong 
physique, and this prevented him from getting a fair start in life. 

In 1806, when James was eleven years old, his parents removed to 
Tennessee and made a settlement in what was known as the Duck 
Kiver Valley. The Polk family were among the pioneer settlers of this 
famous valley. There James really began his school life. He was studi- 
ous, but his physical health was so poor that his father determined 
upon giving him a mercantile career, instead of training him for the 
life of a farmer. He put the boy in the care of a merchant, but the boy 
had other views, and so rebelled against the life intended for him that 
within a very few weeks the father gave way and the boy was sent to 
the academy. 

There he proved an industrious student, especially in mathematics 
and the languages. In 1815 he entered the University of North Caro- 
lina, and was graduated from that institution three years later. He 
chose the law for his profession, and upon leaving college entered the 
office of Felix Grundy, one of the great lawyers of Tennessee, and a 
leading politician of the State. The elder Polk was a follower of Jef- 
ferson, and had instilled into the mind of his son the doctrines of 
government as advocated and taught by the great sage of Monticello. 
Under the leadership and teaching of Grundy, young Polk soon became 
a warm admirer of the "Hero of the Hermitage/ 1 ' and ever afterward 
was his devoted follower. 

In 1820 Mr. Polk was admitted to the bar and chose as his future 
home the town of Columbia. As an attorney he was only moderately 
successful, owing, possibly, to his devoting much of his time to politics. 
It was the "era of good feeling," under the Presidency of Monroe. It 
was an era of prosperity to the country; the Bank of the United States 
had been chartered, thus giving the country a stable currency. Under 
it business had revived and everything looked toward financial peace. 

Young Folk's first political office was that of clerk of the State House 
of Representatives. This added fuel to his political aspirations, and 
in 1823 he was elected to the State Legislature. If he was active in 
that body the record does not disclose it, but he must have made a 
good impression on the people, for in 1825 he was nominated by the 


Democrats for Congress. His election followed, and for fourteen years 
he sat in the National House of Representatives, the last four years 
as Speaker. 

John Quincy Adams was President, having been elected to that 
office by the House of Representatives. Mr. Polk at once arrayed 
himself with those who opposed the administration on every possible 
occasion. He early gave demonstration of his partisanship of what 
was called "States' Rights/' In several speeches he held that the Presi- 
dent and Vice-President should be elected by a direct vote of the peo- 
ple. He was not a ready debater and on nearly all important occasions 
found himself worsted in the argument because of his lack of correct 
information, or from misunderstanding the designs of the fathers of 
the republic. In some of the States electors were chosen by the Legis- 
lature. That system Mr. Polk vigorously assailed, advocating selec- 
tion by popular vote in each district, a system that finally obtained a 
few years later in some of the States. 

Of his opposition to the Adams administration one of his biogra- 
phers says: "As a critic of the Adams administration Polk did not 
rise above the political claptrap of the day. All that can be said in his 
favor in this respect is that he spoke less frequently than did some of 
his colleagues. Even his private letters are tinctured with a bias and 
a bitterness that do him no credit." This extract is taken from a biog- 
raphy written by one of his friends, and is a fair picture of the partisan 
animosity which colored all of his political actions. 

He remained a member of the House during the whole of Jackson's 
administration, and was at the beck and call of the chief at all times. 
He was accused by the Whigs of being a "spy" for Jackson. That is a 
rather harsh term, but it is a matter of history that he was frequently 
the bearer of the President's mandates to his friends, and it is very 
probable he reported to his chief the gossip he could gather. At any 
rate he ever stood for and championed every proposition or suggestion 
of the President. He was his steadfast friend in the fight against the 
bank. It is not necessary, nor would it be appropriate, to here follow 
the contest between President Jackson and the bank. It is enough to 
say that in every position he took, Polk was his henchman, ready at all 
times to do his bidding. 

So it was with every other question which arose in those stormy 
eight years. By training and inclination he was an opponent of the 
protective policy, yet he stood by the President when South Carolina 
undertook nullification. He was the defender of the famous "Specie 
Circular," that wrought such disastrous ruin commercially. When the 
President was assailed for his removals from office, Polk was among 
the first to take the floor in his defense. When Jackson determined that 
Van Buren should be his successor, Polk became an ardent champion of 


the "Magician of Kinderhook," notwithstanding Judge White of his 
own State was an aspirant for that office. 

During the first session of the Twenty-third Congress, when it be- 
came rumored that Speaker Stevenson intended to resign at the close 
of the session, Mr. Polk was seized with an ambition to become his 
successor. He began at once to sound his friends, and by the time Mr. 
Stevenson finally announced his resignation Mr. Polk was a full-fledged 
candidate for the succession. This brought a division in the Demo- 
cratic party in Tennessee which was ruinous, resulting in the practical 
overthrow of the power of Jackson in the State. 

The second session of the Twenty-third Congress opened December 
2, 1834. By that time there was a strong opposition in the House to 
the President, and John Bell defeated Mr. Polk for the Speakership, in 
direct opposition to the wishes of Jackson. The contest was waged in 
Tennessee months before Congress assembled. The leading papers of 
the State were under the control of friends of Mr. BelL This was a 
serious handicap to Mr. Polk, and a source of acute embarrassment to 
President Jackson. To escape, it was determined to start a new paper 
in Nashville. It was accordingly launched through the efforts of Mr. 
Polk under the countenance of the President. To their astonishment 
and disgust they found in its editor a stanch friend of BelL 

The advent of the Twenty-fourth Congress found the Democrats 
once more in control in the House. This time Mr. Polk made good, and 
was elected Speaker, defeating Mr. BelL His days of trouble were just 
ahead of him. Every student of American political history will recall 
the great fight for the right of petition made by John Quincy Adams, 
who had entered the House of Representatives shortly after his term 
as President expired. Adams was of fighting stock. He knew every 
trick there was in parliamentary procedure. His resources were end- 
less; his courage, and his audacity really sublime. There was nothing 
so gratifying to him as to get his opponent into a parliamentary quan* 
dry. He was the torment of Mr. Folk's life as Speaker. On numerous 
occasions he forced him to rule in direct opposition to the wishes of 
his party friends, and as frequently forced him to make rulings so 
openly and defiantly against true parliamentary rules as to make him 
ridiculous to the House. 

Mr. Polk was not by any means an admirable presiding officer. He 
lacked the thorough knowledge of parliamentary laws necessary for 
success in such a position. His old habit of endeavoring* to evade 
direct decisions, and his ever-present fear of offending someone, all 
militated against his proving one of the great Speakers. However, he 
was sustained by the weight of the President, and was easily re-elected 
in the Twenty-fifth Congress. 

By the close of that Congress Jackson was endeavoring to regain 
his position as absolute director of his party in Tennessee. A Cover- 


nor was to be elected, and after long thought the conclusion was 
reached that Mr. Polk was the most available candidate to re-establish 
the Democratic party in power. There had been a hard but unsuccess- 
ful struggle to carry the State for Van Buren. Maneuvering by them 
in the State continued during the term of his Speakership. 

During the last session of the Twenty-fifth Congress there was an 
almost continuous riot. The Democratic party was no longer omnip- 
otent. What its enemies called its misdeeds were bringing a harvest 
of woe. Even Jackson was not spared by the Whigs, and in this they 
were joined by a number of Democrats. They vented their spleen on 
the Speaker, not altogether for his shortcomings, as much as to hu- 
miliate Jackson, who had made him Speaker. They ridiculed him and 
showered him with invectives. When the usual resolution of thanks to 
the Speaker was presented, S. S. Prentiss denounced it with vehemence. 
He accused the Speaker of playing "a political game," and declared : "A 
more perfect party Speaker, one who would be more disposed to bend 
the rules of the House to meet the purposes of his own side in politics, 
never had pressed the soft and ample cushions of that gorgeous chair." 
The resolution finally prevailed but by a majority so small as to really 
be humiliating. 

In the meantime the contest to make things easy for the nomination 
of Mr. Polk for Governor of Tennessee went forward, as did that to 
effect the nomination of Van Buren to be his own successor. Polk re- 
ceived the nomination and made an active and successful race for the 
election. He was inaugurated as Governor on the 14th day of October, 
1839. This success was looked upon as making that of Van Buren 
certain the next year. 

Within a few hours after his inauguration the Tennessee Senate 
opened up the question of nominating Polk for Vice-President on the 
ticket with Van Buren. The Senate passed a resolution of that char- 
acter and sent it to the House. There it was sought to be amended, 
but all attempts in that direction were voted down. The Democratic 
members of Congress from Tennessee took up the matter and began 
the usual pre-convention log-rolling. So far as any outward show, Mr. 
Polk was perfectly passive in the matter. There was some talk of hav- 
ing the convention make no nomination for Vice-President, leaving 
that matter open for the voters to decide. That was finally done, and 
Johnson, of Kentucky, was elected Vice-President by the Senate. 

Polk was renominated for Governor, but was defeated at the polls. 
He made a vigorous campaign, attacking the Whigs with much more 
than his usual vigor, and with much more clearness of expression. 
After his defeat Mr. Polk went into retirement for a time. During 
this time Van Buren paid a visit to Jackson. Polk made another race 
for Governor. It also was an unsuccessful race. 


As the term of President Tyler drew to a close much anxiety was 
felt as to Ms probable successor. It was known that Mr. Van Buren 
would again try for the nomination, and his enemies began the search, 
for a man who could beat him in the convention. Both parties held 
their nominating conventions in those days, more than a year before 
the election. Mr, Polk began sounding among his friends as to what 
his chances might be should he stand before the convention. He had 
the backing of Jackson, and while that was a tower of strength, the 
name of the Old Hero was not as potent as it had been a few years 
before. After many consultations Mr. Polk finally let it be known that 
he would try for the nomination. 

Van Buren's nomination was fully expected, not so much because his 
party wanted him, as because it looked as if no one could command 
votes enough in the convention to defeat him. The Sage of Kinder- 
hook was certain of his nomination, and began to map out the cam- 
paign he intended to make, as Clay was sure to be his opponent. 

So certain was his nomination believed to be that members of the 
party began to look around for a man for the second place. Two 
names were frequently mentioned CoL Eichard Johnson, of Ken- 
tucky, and James K. Polk, of Tennessee. Polk, however, did not intend 
it should go that way. He was after the higher place or nothing. At 
last a change in the date of holding the convention occurred. This 
gave the enemies of Van Buren longer time to organize against him, 
and to work out a plan for his defeat. Tennessee was a doubtful State, 
and it was bruited about that no Democrat could carry it but Polk, 
This was a strong card in his favor, and it was worked for all it was 

The Convention assembled at Baltimore, with everything in doubt, 
but the chances favoring Van Buren. In fact, a majority of the dele- 
gates had been instructed for him. He had taken a stand against the 
annexation of Texas, and that had alienated the South from him, and 
a number of delegates openly repudiated their instructions, while 
others contented themselves by declaring they would abandon him 
after the first ballot. Finally a scheme to defeat him was devised. It 
was to adopt a rule which would require a two-thirds vote to nominate. 
While a majority had been instructed for Mm, there were enough mal- 
contents to secure the adoption of the new rule. 

After a day or two of fruitless balloting the name of Polk was 
brought forward. On the first ballot on that day he received forty- 
four votes. When the vote was announced one of the delegates who 
had voted for Van Buren stated that he had voted for Mr. Van Buren 
because he had been instructed to do so, but Van Buren could not be 
nominated and that he now intended to cast his vote for "James K. 
Polk, the bosom friend of Andrew Jackson, and a pure, whole-hogged 
Democrat, the known enemy of banks and distribution." This was 


enough to fire the convention, and before the next ballot was completed 
the name of Van Buren was withdrawn. Polk was nominated through 
the new rule, and that rule has plagued the Democrats ever since. Un- 
der its operation several worthy Democrats who were decidedly the 
favorites of the party have been defeated for the nomination, the two 
latest being Champ Clark in 1912, and William Gibbs McAdoo in 1924. 

Polk was unknown to the people at large. It is true he had served 
several terms as a member of the House of Representatives, and had 
twice been, the Speaker, but to the country at large he was unknown. 
The Whigs made very merry over that fact, and they placarded fences 
and barns with the painted words, "Who is Polk?" The Whig papers 
carried the words in large letters on their front page, while Whig 
orators made the air resound with the question. That is where they 

The campaign opened with three great issues before the people. Of 
course, one of those issues was the tariff, Mr. Polk being a pronounced 
free-trader. The second was the annexation of Texas. The third was 
the northern boundary of Oregon. The United States claimed all the 
territory up to fifty-four degrees and forty minutes. Great Britain 
placed it far south of that line. The campaign slogan of the Democrats 
was "Fifty-four forty, or fight." The whole country was aflame, and 
it carried the day for Mr. Polk, just as "He kept us out of war" car- 
ried the day for Mr. Wilson in 1916. Mr. Polk was the first "dark 
horse" ever nominated for President by either party. He overthrew 
at the election Henry Clay, the idol of the Whigs. 

As to the annexation of Texas, he was forestalled by the action of 
John C, Calhoun, Secretary of State in the Tyler administration. Just 
forty-eight hours before Polk was to be inaugurated Secretary Cal- 
houn despatched a courier to Texas, bearing the resolution of annexa- 
tion, and urgent arguments for hasty action on the part of Texas. The 
annexation was made, war came. In about all connected with the war, 
Marcy, the new Secretary of War, was the prime mover. He was one 
of the most forcible characters ever holding a Cabinet position. If the 
President ever hesitated, the Secretary knew how to spur his resolu- 
tion* It is needless to here tell the story of the war which followed the 
annexation. Its final results were momentous. We took from Mexico 
large territories, and later bought from her ruler other large terri- 
tories, and they opened up again the slavery agitation, an agitation 
that never slacked up until slavery was finally done away with as the 
result of the Civil War. 

Two good things, however, did flow from that war. One was the 
establishment of a Naval Academy at Annapolis, an educational insti- 
tution that has come to be one of the great educational institutions of 
the world. The other was the founding of a great home for the officers 
and privates of the regular army. When General Scott captured Mex- 


ico he made a heavy levy on some of the rich inhabitants. He had long 
been urging Congress to establish a home for the disabled regulars, 
but without success. He applied the money received from the Mexi- 
cans to this purpose. The naval school at Annapolis had been estab- 
lished without any action upon the part of Congress, being wholly the 
work of Secretary of the Navy Bancroft. So the great home for the 
regulars was established without at first receiving the consent of that 
body of lawmakers. 

The settlement of the Oregon boundary question was another thing. 
In his first message to Congress Mr. Polk called attention to the joint 
occupancy by the United States and Great Britain of the disputed ter- 
ritory, and that the Convention under which the joint occupancy ex- 
isted might be determined by giving a year's notice. He then said: 
"Should Congress think it proper to make provision for giving that 
notice, we shall have reached a period when the national rights in 
Oregon must either be abandoned or firmly maintained. That they 
cannot be abandoned without a sacrifice of both national honor and 
interest is too clear to admit of doubt." 

This was strong language and aroused the greatest enthusiasm in 
every part of the country. Men of all parties endorsed it, and gave the 
President unstinted praise for his firmness in declaring that our na- 
tional interest must be maintained. It angered Great Britain, and 
there was free talk of war over there. President Polk, however, 
backed down from this position, and finally permitted Mr. Buchanan, 
his Secretary of State, to agree to a treaty abandoning the claim of 
"Fifty-four forty," that was to be maintained, or a fight was to follow, 
according to campaign pledges, and to accept the line as proposed by 
Great Britain. 

When this became known a storm of indignation swept the country, 
leading Democrats being the loudest in their denunciations. A single 
quotation will show the feeling among the Democrats. A Senator from 
North Carolina had attempted to explain away the action of the Presi- 
dent. Edward A. Hannegan, one of the most prominent of the Demo- 
cratic Senators, replied, in which he used this language concerning the 
President : 

"So long as one human eye remains to linger on the page of history 
the story of his abasement will be read, sending him and his name to- 
gether to an infamy so profound, a damnation so deep, that the hand 
of resurrection will never drag him forth. So far as the whole tenor, 
spirit and meaning of the remarks of the Senator from North Carolina 
are concerned, if they speak the language of James K. Polk, then 
James K. Polk has spoken words of falsehood with the tongue of a 

All this was said without anyone calling the angry Senator to order. 
Would any Senator in these days be permitted to use such language re- 


garding a President? It must be remembered that the words quoted 
were not those of a political enemy, but of a political friend, and one, 
too, who held a high place in the Democratic councils. 

Mr. Polk had declared himself as favoring a one-term policy. Fol- 
lowing that he was not a candidate to succeed himself at the end of his 
four years of office. At the end of his term he retired to his home in 
Tennessee, and died in a few weeks. Of him, Mr. Benton, in his "Thirty 
Years' View/' says: 

"He died at Nashville, Tennessee, soon after he returned home, and 
within three months after his retirement from the Presidency. He was 
an exemplary man in his private life, moral in all his deportment, and 
patriotic in his public life, aiming at the good of his country always. 
It was his misfortune to have been brought into the presidency by an 
intrigue not of his own, but of others, and the evils of which became 
an inheritance of his position, and the sole cause of all that was objec- 
tionable in his administration All the faults of his administration 

were the faults of his Cabinet ; all the merits were his own, in defiance 
of them. . . . The war with Mexico, under the impulse of speculators, 
and upon an intrigue with Santa Anna, was the great blot on his ad- 
ministration ; and that was wholly the work of the intriguing part of 
his Cabinet. . . . He was sincerely the friend of the Union, and against 
whatever would endanger it, especially that absorption of the whole of 
Mexico which had advocates in those who stood near him." 

The intriguers of the Cabinet to which Mr. Benton refers were Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, Robert J. Walker ; Secretary of War, William 
L. Marcy; Attorney General, Nathan Clifford, and Postmaster Gen- 
eral, Cave Johnson. The appointment of Walker had been very dis- 
tasteful to former President Jackson, yet he proved to be one of the 
really great finance ministers the country has had. Clifford was sent 
to Mexico to negotiate a treaty of peace, and was afterward given a 
place on the bench of the Supreme Court. 


resentatives in the Twenty-sixth Congress. Born in Essex Coun- 
ty, Virginia, April 21, 1809, Son of James and Maria (Garnett) Hun- 
ter. Educated at University of Virginia. Married Miss Mary IjCvalina 
Dandridge, October 4, 1836. Died in Essex County, Virginia, July 10, 

The father of the subject of this sketch, James Hunter, was a 
landed proprietor of high standing in the community. In his earlier 
manhood life he had been engaged in merchandising, but, like most 
Virginians, his prime object was to become a planter. His mother was 


a member of the Garnett family, noted in the history of Virginia. No 
better opening for this sketch can be found than the following, taken 
from a correspondent of the Eichmond Dispatch of December 13, 1891 : 

The movement inaugurated to remove the remains of the late K. M. T. Hunter 
to some point near Eichmond, and to erect an appropriate monument to his mem- 
ory will recall to many who have passed the meridian of life the exciting political 
contests of the three decades from 1830 to 1860, when Whig and Democrat strug- 
gled for supremacy in the State and Federal Governments, when the hustings was 
the arena upon which the intellectual gladiators of each party met in fierce, yet 
courteous, debate, giving thrust for thrust and blow for blow. 

These battles were waged with varying fortunes, sometimes one champion and 
sometimes another winning the favor of the people, who turned out almost en 
masse to attend these forensic displays, the adherents of each, in turn, cheering 
themselves hoarse when some telling point was made by their favorite leader, and 
at another were hushed into silence by the magic power of their eloquence. In 
those days every Virginian was a politician, and every measure, State and Fed- 
eral, was fully discussed upon the hustings, which was the great medium through 
which the people were informed upon public affairs. But few of the present gen- 
eration, except such as have been students of history, will recall any memory of 
the questions which were discussed, or the history of the leaders of public opinion, 
and to many even the names of these intellectual giants are unknown. It may 
not be untimely, therefore, nor without interest to your readers, to give a brief 
sketch of the life and services of one who was an active participant in these con- 
tests, and who for more than twenty-five years was ranged on one side or the 
other of every important public question which divided the parties; who, after 
two terms of service in the State Legislature, served eight years in the House of 
Representatives, and by successive elections was for fourteen years a Senator of 
the United States, and subsequently held high positions under the short-lived gov- 
ernment of the Confederate States. 

R. M. T. Hunter was an active participant in the political contests 
referred to. As an orator on the hustings he had few equals in his 
day, and his influence was great among the people of his congressional 
district, and later with those of the whole State. Before entering upon 
the story of his political career it will be well to tell something of the 
days of his boyhood and youth. 

His mother was a woman of great intellectual powers, and she early 
developed a strong love of literature in her gifted son. In her girlhood 
days she was fond of literature of the higher order, and this love for 
literature remained with her during all her mature life. Mothers are 
usually the first to discover the talents of their children. It was so 
with this Virginia mother. She early recognized the studious inclina- 
tion of her boy, and she led him onward in that direction, and it is 
probable his after ability to use the best and most appropriate word 
when speaking before the people or from his place in the Senate was 
due to this early training by his mother. 

It is said that even when a child Robert Hunter was grave and 
thoughtful, given to meditation more than to play. His first educa- 
tion was superintended by his sisters. When he was about eleven 


years of age a private teacher was employed to manage a school in 
the neighborhood. The schoolhouse was some two miles away from 
his home, and Robert walked that distance each day. He did not like 
the school, but it was his father's will that he should attend, and his 
father was one who always saw that his will was obeyed. At this time, 
when the opportunity offered, the lad would choose the companionship 
of older persons rather than that of those of his own age. 

He was studious and ambitious ; his companions at school were not 
of the order to lead or engage his friendship. Politics, especially the 
financial condition of the planters, formed the principal topic of con- 
versation at the home fireside, and more especially when guests were 
present. To those conversations young Robert listened with the deep- 
est interest, and he stored much of what he heard in his memory for 
future use. 

As a rule, the planters of Virginia sent their boys to college as soon 
as they were qualified to pass the entrance examination. Three insti- 
tutions of learning were favorites among the planters Princeton Col- 
lege, in New Jersey; William and Mary, and the University of Vir- 
ginia. The latter was chosen for young Robert. It was then just be- 
ginning its career as an educational center. Robert's father did not 
live to see his son enter upon his collegiate term, dying a few months 
before the date fixed for the opening of the university for the admis- 
sion of students. 

Robert Hunter became one of the first students and was one of the 
first to be graduated. At the close of his college term he entered a 
law office to study that science. He had already formed his mind as 
to his future career. Law was the door opening to financial success, 
as well as the door to political preferment. As has been said, every 
Virginian was a politician, and no young scion of a Virginia family 
ever started out in life without having political hopes. When he was 
ready to begin the practice of his chosen profession, he purchased a 
farm to begin the life of a planter as well as that of a lawyer. 

To add to his desire for a home he was about to take to himself a 
wife. His marriage took place on the 4th of October, 1836, just two 
days after his bride had reached the nineteenth year of her age. It 
was in every respect a happy marriage. In a letter to his sister before 
the marriage he thus describes his expected bride: 

She is young, handsome, intelligent, cheerful, agreeable and good. Do my 
adjectives startle you? They need not, for they are not extravagant, and yet 
what I have said is so little like what I want to say that I am tempted to throw 
my letter into the fire, as I have thrown several before. She is of good family, 
well connected, reared by a religious mother, and, I believe, high-souled. 

In 1835, when he was but twenty-six years of age, he was elected to 
the House of Delegates, and served four years. Slavery was then, as 
it was for many years, an absorbing topic. A number of abolition 


societies were being" organized in the Northern States, and Congress 
was being besieged by petitions, especially for the abolition of slavery 
in the District of Columbia. Mr. Hunter added to his reputation as a, 
speaker during his four years in the State Legislature, and strength- 
ened himself with the people. 

In 1837 he was elected to a seat in the national House of Repre- 
sentatives. He at once took a prominent place in that body. His 
reputation as a speaker of strength had preceded him, and he was 
cordially welcomed, especially by the other members from the South. 
He was twice re-elected, but on the third effort for re-election was 
defeated by a small margin. Two years later he was again returned 
to the House, remaining a member until he was sent to the Senate, in 
1847. In the Twenty-sixth Congress he was elected Speaker of the 

Entering the Senate in 1847, he remained in that body until he 
resigned, in 1861, when Virginia passed the ordinance of secession. 
In the Senate he was always one of the commanding figures, taking 
part in many of the most memorable debates. While in the House he 
advocated the annexation of Texas and the compromise on the Oregon 

He was early a disciple of Calhoun, adopting to the full his doctrine 
of States' Rights. He was also an advocate of a low tariff. He voted 
for the Missouri Compromise, although not heartily endorsing it. He 
accepted it as a solution of a question that was fast dividing the peo- 
ple, threatening to end in secession. His most important service in the 
Senate was as Chairman of the Committee on Finance. He made an 
exhaustive report on the coinage. He recommended a reduction of the 
quantity of silver used in the smaller coins. Securing favorable action 
on this, it was claimed it resulted in checking the exportation of such 
coins to foreign countries. 

He was the practical author of the tariff act of 1857. This brought 
a large reduction in customs duties and at the same time enlarged the 
free list. The result of the act was disastrous to the country, causing 
a large deficit in the treasury. The bonded system, which permits 
imported goods to remain in government warehouses at the will of 
the importer, originated with Mr. Hunter. 

He sustained the administration in its dealing with Kansas, favor- 
ing the admission of Kansas as a State under the Lecompton constitu- 
tion. He was an ardent advocate and defender of slavery, and in the 
Senate delivered an elaborate speech, contending for the right of an 
owner of slaves to take them into any territory. He had always been 
a stanch defender of States' Rights, and took every occasion to repeat 
his views in that direction. His admirers often declared that a speech 
delivered by him in Richmond was one of the ablest ever delivered in 
sustaining the right of a State to secede when its people believed their 


rights were invaded or jeopardized by the Federal Government. Mr. 
Hunter aspired to the presidency, and had strong hopes of securing 
the nomination by the Democratic party in 1860 ; but the fates were 
against him, 

Mr. Hunter was not among those in the Senate who threatened a 
disruption of the Union in case a Republican should be elected Presi- 
dent, but he believed that a State had the right to secede. He held 
to his place in the Senate until Virginia passed out of the Union. When 
his State took that action he followed her, resigning from the Senate. 
Before doing that he delivered in the Senate one of his ablest speeches, 
regretting that he could see no way to avoid the crisis then confront- 
ing the country. 

Leaving the Senate, he gave himself, heart and soul, to the newly- 
established Confederacy. He and Jefferson Davis had long been 
friends, and it was no matter of wonder that, Mr. Davis should at once 
invite him to take a prominent position in his administration. He 
was offered the place of Secretary of State, and at once accepted. In 
that position he served until Richmond was evacuated. He was one 
of the three commissioners appointed by the Confederate government 
to meet President Lincoln at Fortress Monroe in the interest of peace. 
He attended the meeting, but, as is well known, the conference accom- 
plished nothing. When Richmond surrendered President Lincoln in- 
vited a number of the prominent men of Virginia to meet him in Rich- 
mond to confer as to the best and speediest means of restoring the 
Old Dominion to her proper place in the Union, a meeting which was 
to be held in April, 1865. The meeting was prevented by the assas- 
sination of Mr. Lincoln. 

Of this projected meeting Mr. Hunter thus wrote to a friend, after 
giving some account of the conference at Old Point Comfort : 

I never saw Mr. Lincoln afterwards, but he was in Richmond soon after the 
surrender, and, Judge Campbell tells me, expressed a great anxiety to see me, as 
he was under the impression that my name would have some weight with the 
South, and that he and I together might agree upon some proposition which would 
bring 1 the warring sections together. 

He expressed much confidence in the honesty of my intention and in my influ- 
ence with the Southern people, but said he could not wait long", as he was obliged 
to be in Washington by a certain time. 

Judge Campbell told him it was impossible for me to reach Richmond in time 
to meet Mm, not knowing that I lived only fifty miles from the city. 

Mr. Lincoln went to Washington to meet his death, and Judge Campbell thinks 
that our meeting might have saved the South much trouble. 

Whether this is the case or not, I do not know, but I have always regretted that 
circumstances prevented our meeting at that time. 

The close of the war and the collapse of the Confederacy left Mr. 
Hunter, as it did so many others of the South, broken in finances. 
Even before the war, while he was still a member of the United States 


Senate, he was beginning to be financially embarrassd. He had a large 
and growing family, and he entertained lavishly, as did all Virginians. 
Giving his time and thought to public business, he necessarily was 
forced to neglect his own private affairs. In addition to this, he had 
lost heavily during the war. His mill was burnt to the ground and his 
horses and cattle taken by some of the Union troops. 

In May, 1865, Mr. Hunter was arrested and confined for several 
months in Fort PulaskL His friends were active in his behalf, and 
many representations were made to President Johnson, urging that 
his release would have a good effect on the South and materially aid 
in bringing about that peace all were wishing for. His release was 
finally brought about by the actions of his wife. She visited Wash- 
ington, obtained interviews with the President and with Secretary 
Seward. So earnest was her pleading that an order for his release 
was issued. 

Returning to his home, he gave his time and his energies to rebuild- 
ing his private fortunes. He did not lose his interest in political 
affairs, but took little active part. The Southern States were passing 
through the throes of reconstruction, and Mr. Tucker's great desire 
was to see Virginia once more on the way to prosperity. 

In 1874 Mr. Tucker was elected by the State Legislature treasurer 
of Virginia. This necessitated his removing to Richmond. It was a 
position well fitted for a man of his qualities. Honest, upright in all 
his private dealings, he was so with the affairs of the public. While 
he was holding that office Virginia divided into two main parties, one 
calling- itself the "Readjusters," headed by General Mahone. The 
origin of this party was found in a bill passed by the Legislature to 
provide for the payment of the State debt. 

The Readjusters claimed that a part of that debt should be paid by 
West Virginia, as that new State had participated in the benefits de- 
rived from the loans. The other wing of the Democratic party, the 
one to which Mr. Hunter belonged, held that Virginia had contracted 
the debts, and notwithstanding a part of the territory which com- 
prised the State at the time the loans were negotiated was now a sep- 
arate State, Virginia's honor was involved, and that Virginia could 
not forfeit that honor. 

By 1880 the Readjusters, through a combination with the Republi- 
cans, obtained control of the Legislature, and Mr. Hunter was defeated 
for re-election. Once more he returned to his plantation. There he 
remained in quiet, giving some of his time to literature, until Presi- 
dent Cleveland, in 1885, gave him the appointment of Collector of the 
Port of Tappahannock. It was not an office of great importance, or of 
great remuneration, but it gave him some relief from his pecuniary 
embarrassments, as well as to occupy his mind. This office he held 


until his death. The last years of his life were uneventful. He occu- 
pied his time in efforts to rebuild his fortunes, or, rather, to taking 
care of what was left. 
One of his biographers gives this character sketch : 

Naturally sanguine, and by temperament opposed to economic details, Mr. 
Hunter was too prone to engage in speculative enterprises, and would lavish, any 
funds at his disposal on his mill, a favorite hobby with him. 

Hospitable almost to excess, and encouraged in this by his genial and generous- 
hearted wife, they kept open house as long as circumstances rendered it possible, 
and so paramount was the duty of hospitality considered in the Fonthill house- 
hold that no member of the family expressed open dissent or opposition to- its 
freest exercise. It would be a mistake to suppose Mr. Hunter was solely devoted 
to political pursuits and interests to the exclusion of domestic affections. 

Grave and reserved in temperament, with a soul attuned to high thoughts and 
aspirations, he was neither addicted nor adapted to light chat or gossiping inter- 
course, but his affections were strong and tenacious. . . . His nature was single 
and truthful, not inclined to doubt or suspicion, and his regard and friendship, 
once given, were not easily or lightly withdrawn. 

His disposition was gentle, his judgment cool and reliable, and his power of 
self-control remarkable until late in life, when trouble and disease affected a 
temper naturally calm and equable, and rendered him more irritable. 

His usual manner was quietly courteous and rarely excited, but a friend told 
the writer that when speaking, after the first introductory remarks, his eyes 
sparkled and his voice deepened in violence and compass, while the animation 
produced by his interest in Ms subject imparted charm to his whole manner and 

Another writer who knew him well thus depicts his character: 

There have been few men in this country whose public career extended over a 
longer period, or who filled so many exalted positions with such conspicuous 

In private life he was distinguished for his simplicity of manner, his amiability 
and purity of character, and for the philosophy and equanimity with wKich he 
bore the reverses of fortune, as he was in public for his fervent patriotism, his 
unsurpassed ability, and his fidelity to duty. 

No citizen of this or any other age has left a more stainless record, or is more 
worthy of having the memory of his services and virtues perpetuated in enduring 
bronze, and his example transmitted as a rich legacy to posterity. 


JOHN WHITE Speaker of the House of Eepresentatives in the Twen- 
ty-seventh Congress. Born in Carter County, Tennessee, February 
14, 1805. Son of Hugh and Ann (Lowrie) White. Educated at Green- 
ville College, Tennessee. Married Miss Mary Hume. Committed sui- 
cide September 22, 1845. 

Ten years in Congress, serving one term as Speaker, a man of 
much more than ordinary ability, as shown by his speeches in the 
House of Representatives, and an eminent jurist, such was John 
White, of Kentucky; yet there is little on record to tell of the man, 


or Ms activities, other than what is contained in the meager pages 
of the old Congressional Globe. He was a member of one of the most 
distinguished families of Kentucky and Tennessee, a number of whom 
served in Congress, or in other high official positions. 

One of his relatives was Hugh Lawson White, the great orator and 
distinguished member of the United States Senate. It was Hugh 
Lawson White who contested with "Van Buren the nomination for 
President by the Democratic party in 1840. He was defeated in the 
convention, and ran as an independent candidate, receiving the elec- 
toral vote of Georgia and Tennessee. His capture of the electoral 
vote of Tennessee was a great disappointment to Andrew Jackson, 
who sponsored Van. Buren. 

Hugh White, father of the subject of this sketch, was a man of 
considerable wealth, being the owner of the great Goose Creek salt 
works, from which Tennessee and Kentucky largely drew their sup- 
plies of that condiment. Being filled with ambition, young John studied 
law in the office of Governor Owsley, one of the great lawyers and 
Governors of Kentucky. He was admitted to the bar in 1823, and 
rapidly gained distinction in his profession, winning a large clientele. 
He was endowed by nature with the qualities to make him successful 
at the bar. In fact, Ms personal magnetism was such as to win him 
friends, and to hold their friendship. 

Within two or three years he won his way to the head of the bar 
in his section of Kentucky, while at the same time he made friends 
politically. He was an ardent friend and admirer of Henry Clay. He 
was a forcible speaker before a jury, and equally forcible on the hust- 
ings. This made him one of the local leaders of the Whig party, and 
brought him to the notice of the party leaders in other States. He 
was elected to the Twenty-fourth Congress, and remained a member 
until the close of the Twenty-eighth Congress, being Speaker in the 

During his service in the House he took a prominent part in the 
debates, especially those in which the tariff was the subject. He en- 
tered^ Congress just as the administration of General Jackson was 
drawing to a close, and when the fight against the United States Bank 
was at its height. He was a bank man by conviction, and would have 
been a bank man at that time had there been no other reason for such 
an attitude than the fact he believed the President's war on the bank 
was for personal reasons only. 

He remained a member through the administration of Van Buren 
and that of Tyler, leaving that body just as Polk was to assume direc- 
tion of affairs as President. He opposed Van Buren's sub-treasury 
plan, and the subsequent scheme to annex Texas, but finally changed 
his views on that subject. Until he was elected Speaker rarely a day 
passed that he did not join in the discussions. Of his powers as an 


orator, John Quincy Adams says in Ms remarkable diary : "White is a 
man of fine talents and an able debater, but his manner is so vehement 
and his articulation so rapid that it becomes altogether indistinct. He 
repeats the word 'sir' every fifth word, and his discourse is one con- 
tinued stream, without division into paragraphs or construction of 

The Whigs were in the majority when the first session of the 
Twenty-seventh Congress convened in May, 1841, and Mr. White was 
chosen Speaker, following Robert M. T. Hunter, one of the great 
Speakers. There was turmoil almost from the beginning. Tyler, who 
had become President by the death of President Harrison, early broke 
away from the Whig party which had elected him, and for some 
months the Whigs in Congress were not harmonious. In addition to 
the trouble over the desertion of Tyler, the Whigs were not in har- 
mony on the slavery question, which was then becoming one of the 
troubling issues. John Quincy Adams was still presenting his peti- 
tions on that subject, and the annexation of Texas was agitating the 
public mind. It was readily recognized that the annexation of that 
independent republic would extend the area of slavery, and the North- 
ern members were uniting to oppose it. So far as the record discloses 
Mr. White made a satisfactory presiding officer. He was dignified and 
correct in his rulings. 

He served one more term as a member of the House after leaving 
the Speaker's chair, and then retired to private life, intending to prac- 
tice his profession in Richmond, Ky. He was appointed by the Gov- 
ernor Judge of the Nineteenth Judicial District, but ended his life a 
few months later. 


JOHN WINSTON JONES Speaker of the House of Representatives in 
J the Twenty-eighth Congress. Born in Amelia County, Virginia, 
November 22, 1791. Educated at William and Mary College. Died 
near Petersburg, Virginia, January 29, 1849. 

Mr. Jones must have been a leading man in his section of Virginia, 
for he was repeatedly elected to office, and was five times sent to Con- 
gress, representing his district. He must have stood well with his col- 
leagues, for he was elected Speaker of the House at a time when his seat 
was being contested. Yet little can be learned about him. He was a 
lawyer by profession and practiced in Chesterfield County, where he 
was elected Prosecuting Attorney. He was a member of the State 
constitutional convention in 1829. He was a Democrat in political 
belief, and as such was elected to the Twenty-fourth Congress, serving 
ten years. He declined a re-election to the Twenty-ninth Congress, and 
returned to his home and the practice of Ms profession. After leaving 
Congress he again served a term or two in the State Legislature. 



T OHN WESLEY DAVIS Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 
J Twenty-ninth Congress. Born in New Holland, Lancaster County, 
Pennsylvania, April 16, 1799. Educated in Latin school in Shippens- 
burg. Married in October, 1820, Miss Ann Hoover. Died in Carlisle, 
Indiana, August 22, 1859. 

For nearly a third of a century John Wesley Davis was a prominent 
figure in the politics of Indiana, during all that time either holding 
some civil office, or running for some such office. He was not conspicu- 
ous for any great constructive services, nor for any pronounced fail- 
ures. He was not a man of profound learning. He was a legislator 
without any distinctive ability, a diplomat without diplomatic skill or 
learning, a Governor without any particular executive ability. 

Here, in brief, is a record of his official activities: Judge of the 
Probate Court; a member of the State Legislature, several terms, in 
some of them being Speaker of the House; Commissioner to treat with 
the Indians; member National Congress; in the State Legislature, 
again Speaker of the House; again in Congress for two terms, serving 
as Speaker in one; Commissioner to China; again in State Legislature, 
and again Speaker of the House ; Governor of Oregon Territory ; again 
in State Legislature; visitor to West Point Academy* He was several 
times a candidate either for the Legislature or for Congress and failed 
of an election. 

Politically Mr. Davis was a Democrat of the most extreme school. 
On the slavery question, which was one of the absorbing issues when 
he was a member of the National House of Representatives, he ad- 
hered to the views of the Southern members, supporting them with his 
vote and influence. 

As to his youth, and his earlier struggles, he left a written autobiog- 
raphy, from which the following extract is taken ; 

I was born in the village of New Holland, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on 
the 16th of April, 1799. A portion of my childhood was spent with my maternal 
grandfather, Jones. When I was about ten years old my father purchased a farm 
one mile east of SMppensburg, in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and settled 
upon it. Until I was seventeen years of age most of my time was spent upon my 
father's farm; however, during that period I was bound an apprentice to a clock- 
maker by the name of Hendel M. Carlisle, but my health failed from confinement, 
and I quit that business and was next sent to learn storekeeping. Being changeful 
in my disposition, I did not long remain at it, and my father then sent me to a 
Latin school in Shippensburg, where I continued about a year, and then com- 
menced the study of medicine in Carlisle, under the direction of Dr, George D. 
Foulke. The winter of 1819-20 I spent in attending medical lectures at the Uni- 
versity of Maryland, Baltimore. The intervening summer, between the winters 
of 1820-21, I spent in practicing medicine in the village of Concord, Franklin 
county, Pennsylvania. In October, 1820, I married Ann Hoover, of Shippensburg, 
and shortly afterward returned to Baltimore to attend a second course of lec- 
tures. . . . After graduating I attempted to practice my profession at Shippens- 


burg, but becoming discouraged with my prospects, I moved, in August, 1821, to 
Old Town, in Allegany county, Maryland, and there practiced medicine until early 
in the spring of 1823, when I moved to Carlisle, Indiana, where I arrived in April 
of that year with just three cents in my pocket. My professional prospects were 
anything but flattering for the first ten weeks of my residence here, but eventually 
I obtained my share of the practice. 

In 1828 he made his first essay into the political field as $ candidate 
for the State Senate, but was defeated. Attending the session of the 
Legislature that year, he was elected sergeant-at-arms of the Senate. 
He was a physician by profession, but could not keep out of political 
life; so next year, after his defeat for the Senate, he became a candi- 
date for election as Probate Judge of the county. That time he was 
successful, serving in that position for two years. It was not to his 
taste, as it did not give opportunity for mixing in political aff airs ; so 
he again entered the race for the Legislature and was successful. He 
was re-elected without opposition, and in that session was elected 

The Indians were causing some trouble and the President appointed 
a Commission to treat with them. Mr. Jennings, the Governor of the 
State; a Mr. Grume, and Dr. Davis were made members of the Com- 
mission. Mr. Davis was a nervous man, and had little respect or 
patience with the dignity and slowness of action of the Indians when 
engaged in a pow-wow, and deeply offended one of the chiefs. Of this 
William Wesley Woollen, in his "Biographical Sketches," tells the fol- 
lowing story: 

During the preliminary council, Dr. Davis, who was a pompous, big-feeling 
man, said something that gave offense to Oba-noby, one of the head chiefs of the 
Pottawattomies. The chief addressed Governor Jennings saying: "Does our 
Great Father intend to insult us by sending such men to treat with us? Why 
did he not send Generals Cass and Tipton? You (pointing to the Governor) good 
man, and know how to treat us. (Pointing to Crume.) He chipped beef for the 
squaws at Wabash." (Meaning that Crume was the beef contractor at the treaty 
of 1826.) Then pointing to Dr. Davis he said : "Big man and damn fool." The 
chief then spoke a few words to the Pottawattomies present, who gave one of their 
peculiar yells and left the council house, and could only be induced to return after 
several days, and then only through the great influence of Governor Jennings. 

Dr. Davis' first attempt to secure a seat in the National House of 
Representatives was in 1833. He was defeated, but lost out by only 
two votes. Two years later he made another attempt, and at that 
time was successful. He failed in securing a re-election, but was once 
more successful in 1839. He was re-elected in 1841, and that time was 
fortunate enough to be elected Speaker of the House of Representa- 
tives. The experience he had obtained in presiding over the State 
House of Representatives no doubt aided him in the much more im- 
portant position as Speaker of the National House. The annexation 
of Texas and the war with Mexico were the absorbing questions, and 
Speaker Davis, whenever he could, sustained the administration. 


During the time when he was out of Congress, after his first elec- 
tion, he served in the Legislature of the State. There he had much 
influence, much more than he was able to exercise m Congress. In 
1847 he declined to make the race for Congress, and President Polk 
appointed him Commissioner to China. In those days we had no Min- 
ister to that country, the Commissioner, however, acting m that 
capacity. He records that he was four months on his voyage and had 
a most disagreeable journey. Early in 1850 he asked permission to 
return home, which was granted. In China he accomplished little lor 
the country. , j , 

Returning home, he was again sent to the Legislature, and again 
elected Speaker of the House. He did not serve long, however^ as he 
became peeved over some action of the House and peremptorily re- 
signed the office of Speaker. He was a delegate to the Democratic 
National Convention in 1852, and presided over that body. It was the 
convention which nominated Franklin Pierce for President. 

Soon after his inauguration President Pierce appointed Mr. Davis 
Governor of Oregon Territory. The Doctor at first declined this office, 
but finally accepted, and went to the Pacific Coast. He remained there 
about a year, when he resigned and returned to Carlisle. Oregon at 
that time was having much trouble with the Indian tribes, and Gov- 
ernor Davis was not the man to cope with the difficult situation. 

Returning to Indiana, he was once more sent to the Legislature. 
This was to be his last public service, for he died two years later. One 
writer thus speaks of him : 

Dr. Davis was a solid rather than a showy man. His imagination was small, 
but his perceptive faculties were large. He thoroughly understood parliamentary 
law, and was one of the best presiding officers in the country. While his mind was 
not as active as that of Willard, it moved fast enough for him to readily reach Ms 
conclusions. These were seldom wrong, nor were they often questioned. 

Throughout Dr. Davis's long career no one ever doubted his honesty. He kept 
his hands clean. With opportunities for money-making possessed by few, he con- 
tented himself with his legitimate earnings, and died a poor man. 

Dr. Davis had fine social qualities. While he was at the capital, in attendance 
upon his public duties, it was his custom often to spend his evenings in the fami- 
lies of his friends. He was fond of music, was a good vocalist, and delighted in 
the singing of popular songs. 

Dr. Davis did not rank high as a public speaker. He had none of the arts of 
the public orator, but nevertheless he was an entertaining talker. He was a good 
canvasser, could express himself intelligently and well, and if not an eloquent man, 
he was a sensible one. He knew how to reach the average voter, and how to get 
his vote. 

Physically, Dr. Davis was a fine specimen of manhood. He was six feet two 
inches high, with a well proportioned body. ... As a presiding officer he ranked 
with the best, and as a safe and prudent legislator he was the equal of any man 
in the State in his day. 

This picture of Dr. Davis may not be overdrawn, yet in legislation 
he was not an originator. He accepted and sustained what his party 


leaders favored. He was in all things a party man. He was an up- 
right citizen and the people of his county never lost their confidence 
in him. This was evidenced by their repeatedly returning him to the 
Legislature. While he cannot be classed as a great man, he did de- 
serve a place among the useful men of his time. 


ROBERT CHARLES WINTHROP Speaker of the House of Representa- 
tives in the Thirtieth Congress. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, 
May 12, 1809. Son of Thomas L. and Elizabeth (Bowdoin) Winthrop. 
Educated at Harvard College. Married, March 12, 1832, Miss Eliza 
Blanchard; October 15, 1849, Mrs. Laura Welles; November 15, 1865, 
Mrs. Adele Thayer. Died in Boston, November 16, 1894. 

As an orator entitled to take rank with Webster, Clay, and Calhoun, 
Robert Charles Winthrop was for many years an important figure in 
American political life. His place as statesman will depend upon the 
angle of vision. His friends during his public life regarded him as a 
statesman of very high order, but the careful student of history may 
not be willing to accept their estimate. He served six terms in the 
House of Representatives and a short term in the United States Sen- 
ate, but never formulated any great scheme of legislation, and 
although for a number of years classed among the leaders of his party, 
he never shaped the policy of his party. 

He was a Whig in his party affiliations as long as that party was in 
existence, but when it passed from the political arena, he united first 
with the Democrats, and then shifted, sometimes supporting the can- 
didates of one party and then those of the other party, having no abid- 
ing political home. 

He was a direct descendant of the great Governor John Winthrop, 
of Colonial days. His father was looked upon as one of the leading 
citizens of Boston, holding, at different times, several minor offices in 
the civil administration, and for a number of years was Lieutenant 
Governor of the State. 

John Charles, the subject of this sketch, was the youngest of four- 
teen children born to his parents. Those of his brothers and sisters 
who survived to maturity all occupied prominent positions. During 
the early years of his life his mother was his teacher, a position she 
was eminently qualified to fill. Then, at different times, he attended 
two private schools, fitting himself to enter college. Such was his 
industry, and the grasp of his mind that he was ready to enter the 
higher institution of learning by the time he reached his fourteenth 
year. An older brother, however, had not reached a readiness to pass 
the necessary examination, and his father thought it best that the 


younger son should not enter college in advance of an older brother, 
so Robert had to wait a year. 

As to his life in college one biographer writes: "In mathematics 
Mr. Winthrop excelled all his classmates, who elected him their presi- 
dent, but, as Professor Channing told him, he 'did too many things' to 
be in reach of a First Part. He commanded the military company of 
the college, the famous but long extinct 'Harvard Washington Corps/ 
He presided over the select convivial reunions of the Porcellian Club 
and the Knights of the Square Table. He was orator of the Hasty 
Pudding Club, and was alike enrolled among the notorious Med. Fac. 
and the exemplary Phi Beta Kappa, sang bass in the Chapel choir, 
played a subordinate musical instrument in the concerts of the Pierian 
Sodality, and not infrequently stole away to town to attend some the- 
atrical performance or social gathering. The only wonder was, with 
all this he managed to secure the Third Part, which he signalized by 
a commencement oration entitled 'Public Station/ " 

In connection with this graduation address the biographer tells a 
very amusing story. The father of the collegian celebrated the event 
of his graduation by giving him a large reception at the leading tavern. 
Among the guests were President John Quincy Adams and other noted 
men of that day. Andrew Stevenson, Speaker of the National House 
of Representatives, had accepted an invitation to be present, but at 
the last moment backed out. It appears he had heard the oration of 
the young student and had taken exception to one remark. The orator 
had incidentally quoted from the Psalmist where that great poet had 
said that "promotion comes neither from the East, nor from the 
West, nor yet from the South/' Mr. Stevenson was a Southerner of 
the redest dye, and, believing the young man was intending to compli- 
ment President Adams, who was present, at the expense of his beloved 
section of the country, refused to attend the reception. 

Immediately upon receiving Ms 'degree from his college, Mr. Win- 
throp entered the office of Daniel Webster to study law. He was not 
a diligent or laborious student. The biographer before quoted from 
draws this picture of his life at that time: "After dark and even before 
dark he cultivated fashionable society with some degree of assiduity, 
became a manager of subscription balls, wore some of the most con- 
spicuous of the parti-colored waistcoats then in vogue, and, according 
to one of his sisters, devoted an unconscionable time to the art of tying 
voluminous cravats." 

He occasionally contributed to some of the literary magazines of the 
day, it is said, for the munificent pay of one dollar per page. He 
attempted to practice law, but the most of his time was given to poli- 
tics. It was during those halcyon days he took to himself a wife. For 
a wedding journey they visited Washington and Virginia. In Virginia 


they were the guests of former President Madison. It was in the 
autumn of 1833 that Mr. Winthrop displayed for the first time the 
oratorical ability which later made him one of the famous orators of 
the country. It was on the occasion of welcoming Henry Clay to Bos- 
ton. The short address of welcome was so felicitous in expression and 
in such choice language as to attract the attention of Mr. Clay, him- 
self, perhaps, the greatest of American orators. 

His interests in politics brought him very early into a place among 
the leaders and directors of the party campaigns. He was a Whig, 
following, with enthusiasm, the leadership of Henry Clay. His felicity 
in writing caused him to be selected to write all the addresses of the 
campaign committee to the voters, and all the platforms for the party 

He was very active during the years 1834 and 1835 in opposing the 
administration of President Jackson. The struggle of the President 
to break down the Bank of the United States was the absorbing politi- 
cal issue, and Mr. Winthrop became one of the leading Whig orators 
of New England. Of the removal of the deposits he said in the course 
of one of his speeches : 

There are some deposits more sacred than the public funds, deposits which 
money cannot pay for, which gold cannot redeem certainly that gold which has 
been shorn of the badge of our liberty and the motto of our Union. Liberty and 
the Constitution which secures it, what are these but sacred, precious deposits, 
intrusted to our keeping by our fathers for our enjoyment and that of our pos- 
terity, and who that has an eye to the condition of his country can fail to see the 
vulture hand of Andrew Jackson hanging over and clutching at these deposits? 
His whole career has clearly manifested the tyrannous design to set up his arbi- 
trary and despotic will as the sole standard" of government and to make himself 
the master instead of the servant of the American people. 

The whole printed speech, which was very long, is of a similar 
tenor. To him Jackson was an American Satan, bent on destroying 
all that was good. The closing paragraph is well worth reproducing: 

I am not afraid to look defeat in the face, for there is, it cannot be denied, a 
gleam of sunshine on the horizon. The gorgon head of Andrew Jackson is no 
longer in the field against us. The smoke of that New Orleans victory will no 
longer blear and blind the eyes of the American people. The magic of that word 
Hero will no longer silence the tones of patriotic opposition. The spell is already 
broken, the charm dissolves apace, the bonds of that fatal destiny are scattered, 
the people are awaking. 

In 1834 Mr. Winthrop was elected a member of the General Court 
of Massachusetts, where he served six years, the last three as Speaker. 
During that service he made a number of elaborate speeches on sub- 
jects coming before the Legislature, all displaying talents as an orator 
and special ability as a debater, 

Mr. Winthrop was elected to the Twenty-sixth Congress to fill a 
vacancy. It was during the campaign for this election Mr. Winthrop 


for the first time gave his views on the subject of slavery, then the 
great agitating matter. It was in reply to a series of questions pro- 
pounded to him by some of the voters of his district. After saying 
that he believed that Congress had no right to interfere in the small- 
est degree with slavery in the States where it existed, he said : "I have 
no hesitation in adding that my vote could never be withheld, if I had 
a vote to give in Congress or elsewhere, whenever I should see a just, 
practicable and constitutional mode of diminishing or mitigating so 
great an evil as slavery/' 

During the first session of Congress of which he was a member, 
Mr. Winthrop made no formal speech. He gave his time and attention 
to learning the method of procedure, and a study of his fellow-mem- 
bers. Nor did he join in much of the social gayety at the capital, 
although he had a marked liking for society. In those days it was a 
rare thing for a member of Congress to take his family with him to 
Washington, the members preferring to live in boarding-houses. 

By the time the next Congress opened its sessions he was ready to 
join in the debates, and, as John Quincy Adams said in his remarkable 
diary, he gave "promise as an orator and debator in the House of the 
highest order." It was during this session that Mr. Winthrop resigned 
his seat in the House in order that he might be at the bedside of his 
wife, who was slowly dying. "Pairs" were not then of common occur- 
rence, and the Whig ascendency was so limited that it was not safe 
for them to lose even one vote upon the important questions then be- 
fore the House. To serve his party he resigned, that a Whig might 
be elected to the place, thus preserving the party strength. He was, 
however, returned to the next Congress. 

At that time the "right of petition" was agitating the House. All 
readers of political history will readily recall the great struggle of 
John Quincy Adams to defend that right. In January, 1844, Mr. Win- 
throp delivered a most eloquent and convincing speech on that sub- 
ject. The closing paragraph is worthy an insertion in a sketch even 
as short as this of necessity must be. He said : 

Mr. Speaker, we ask for these petitions only that you treat them as you treat 
other petitions. We set up for them no absurd or extravagant pretentions. We 
claim for them no exclusive or engrossing attention. We desire only that you will 
adopt no prescriptive and passionate course toward them. We demand only that 
you will allow them to go through the same orderly round of reception, reference 
and report, with all other petitions. When they have gone through that round they 
will be just as much under your own control as they were before they entered on it. 
I heartily hope, sir, that this course is now about to be adopted. I hope it as an 
advocate of the right of petition. I hope it as a Northern man with Northern 
principles, if you please to term them so. But I hope it not less as an American 
citizen with American principles; as a friend to the Constitution and the Union; 
as one who is as little disposed to interfere with any rights of other States as to 
surrender any rights of his own State; as one who, though he may see provisions 


of the Constitution which are odious in principle and unjust in practice provi- 
sions which he would gladly have had omitted at the outset, and gladly see altered 
now if such alteration were practicable is yet willing to stand by our Constitur 
tion as it is, our Union as it is, our Territory as it is! I honestly believe that the 
course of this House in relation to these petitions has done more than all other 
causes combined to bring the Constitution into disregard and the Union into dan- 
ger. . . . And to what advantage on the part of those by whom this rule was de- 
vised ? Have Southern institutions been any safer since its establishment ? Have 
the enemies to those institutions been rendered any less ardent or less active by it? 
Has agitation on the subject of slavery in this Hall been repressed or allayed by 
it? Have these petitions and resolutions "been diminished in number under its 
operation and influence? No, sir, the very reverse, the precise opposite of all this 
his been the result. 

The annexation of Texas was being agitated, and it was believed 
that President Tyler was bent on bringing that annexation about. 
Mr. Winthrop offered in the House a resolution declaring that no prop- 
osition for the annexation of Texas to the United States ought to be 
made or assented to by this Government. As was to be expected, the 
resolution was voted down, as it had already been determined by the 
leaders of the party then in power to annex Texas, even should war 
with Mexico follow. He delivered another elaborate speech during that 
session, in which he severely condemned the attitude of the adminis- 
tration on the Oregon question. In 1845 he made another long speech 
on the annexation of Texas, in which he said: 

I am against annexation now and always, because I believe it to be clearly 
unconstitutional in substance ; because I believe it will break up the balance of our 
system, violate the Compromise of the Constitution, and endanger the permanence 
of our Union; and, above all, I am uncompromisingly opposed to the extension of 
domestic slavery, or to the addition of another inch of slaveholding territory to 
the nation. 

On another occasion he addressed the House in a lengthy speech on 
the Oregon question. In 1844 Mr. Polk had been elected President 
under the slogan of "Fifty-four Forty, or Fight/' "Twisting the 
Lion's Tail" had been a favorite diversion with the campaign orators, 
and as Great Britain had never been known to give up without a fight 
an inch of territory she claimed, war with that country was a favor- 
ite theme with one class of our people. After Mr. Polk had become 
settled in the White House there began to be some talk of negotiations 
and a settlement of the Oregon question by arbitration. This talk had 
acquired momentum even before the inauguration of Mr. Polk, but some 
of the radicals in Congress had declared there should be no more nego- 
tiations ; that Oregon, all of it, belonged to the United States, and that 
not an inch of it should be surrendered. This sentiment found ex- 
pression in the famous toast of Senator Hannegan, of Indiana, at a 
dinner in Philadelphia : "Oregon Every foot or not an inch ; Fifty- 
four Deg., Forty Min., or delenda est Britannia/' In February, 1845, 


only a few days before the administration of President Tyler was to 
end and that of President Polk begin, Mr. Winthrop made a powerful 
speech on the Oregon question. Among other things he said: 

No more negotiations! Why, Mr. Chairman, where is such, a doctrine as this 
to lead us? Inevitably to war. To war with England now, to war with all the 
world hereafter, or certainly with all parts of the world with which we may have 
controversies of any sort, and even war can never put an end to the necessity of 
negotiation. Unless war Is to be perpetual, you must come back to negotiation in 
the end. The only question in the case before us the only question in the case of 
disputed international rights is not whether you will negotiate or fight, but 
whether you will negotiate only, or negotiate and fight both. Battles will never 
settle boundaries between Great Britain and the United States, in Oregon or 
elsewhere. The capture of ships, the destruction of commerce, the burning and 
plundering of cities will leave us just where we began. First or last, negotiation 
alone can settle this question. For one, then, I am for negotiation first, before 
war and without war. 

This, perhaps, is as good a place as any to call to remembrance a 
toast offered by Mr. Winthrop, given at a Fourth of July meeting: 
"Our COUNTRY whether bounded by the St. Johns and the Sabine, 
or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the measurements 
more or less still our country, to be cherished in all our hearts, to be 
defended by all our hands !" On the question of establishing civil gov- 
ernment in Oregon, Mr. Winthrop offered a resolution declaring that 
involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, should not 
exist therein. The resolution was adopted as an amendment to the 
pending bill. 

In a series of pen sketches of the members of the Twenty-eighth 
Congress, written by a noted Pennsylvania writer, is the following 
description of the oratorical powers of Mr. Winthrop: 

Robert C. Winthrop is, by common consent, one of the ablest men in the House* 
and in a Whig Congress would not improbably be Speaker. Candid, honorable* 
and high-minded, he is above the tricks of intrigue, and every progressive step 
of his public life has been marked by increased evidences of intellectual power. 
As a speaker, he is clear, concise, and occasionally very eloquent. He speaks but 
rarely, but is always listened to with attention. He has an exceptionally fine voice, 
an impassioned manner, and a warm and brilliant imagination, which frequently 
lights up Ms speeches with gleams of bold and brilliant fancy. He is tall in 
stature, with the face of a scholar and serious thinker. With those who know him 
well, on both sides of the House, he is a great favorite, but the criticism has been 
made that he is a little too refined and dignified for some of his surroundings. A 
man of rougher temperament, even if less intellectual, is often better suited for 
a party captain. 

On the tariff question he favored, in a modified degree, Mr*. Clay's 
American System, and when the tariff question was before the House 
usually made a strong presentation of the right and righteousness of 
the protective theory in fixing customs duties. Mr. Winthrop had 
enemies political in Ms own State, and even in his own party. 


Among those might be mentioned Charles Sumner. He at one time 
contemplated retiring from the House, but the attacks made upon him 
caused him to abandon that idea and to again stand for nomination 
by his party. His own party was split and a third candidate appeared, 
but Mr. Winthrop triumphed over all opposition. In the next session 
of the House he delivered what might be called a very carefully pre- 
pared speech on the war with Mexico. He defended, with warmth, his 
attitude toward the annexation of Texas and toward the war. He held 
that the war was unwarranted, that all the questions involved could 
have been settled by negotiation without an appeal to war. The coun- 
try having become involved in the war, he consistently voted all the 
supplies of men and money the administration asked for. 

At the adjournment of the Twenty-ninth Congress, Mr. Winthrop 
indulged himself with a trip to Europe. He had long contemplated 
this trip. During his visit to France and England he met many of the 
celebrities of those countries. He made the most of his opportunities 
and studied the political, economical, and social conditions over the 
ocean, returning with his own views of the future of the United States 
strengthened and enlarged. He was returned as a member of the 
House in the Thirtieth Congress. 

When the Thirtieth Congress met, Mr. Winthrop was made the 
caucus nominee of the Whigs for Speaker. The Whigs had, nominally, 
a small majority, but their strength was frequently frittered away 
by factions. Among the Massachusetts members was John G. Palfrey. 
He was not satisfied altogether with Mr. Winthrop's nomination by 
the caucus, and addressed to him a letter, asking him as to how he 
would constitute certain committees. In his letter he intimated that 
there were other members besides himself who would be influenced 
by the reply of Mr. Winthrop. The reply of Mr. Winthrop was short, 
but to the point. He not only refused to make any pledges, but stated 
' that if he was to occupy the Speaker's chair, he must do so without 
pledges of any sort. On the first ballot Mr. Winthrop fell three short 
of the number necessary to elect. Six of the Whigs did not vote for 
him. Three of these were from the North and three from the South. 
On the second ballot one of the six fell into line, and another did not 
vote at all. This left Mr. Winthrop only one short. As the clerk began 
to call the roll for the third ballot, one of the Democratic members left 
the Hall, and that gave the election to Mr. Winthrop. 

The objection the Southern Whigs had to Mr. Winthrop was that 
he had voted for the famous Wilmot Proviso. Evidently he found the 
Speaker's chair a source of trouble and vexation. In a letter written 
to a friend he thus tells of his woes : 

Nobody can exaggerate the labor and anxiety to which I have been subjected. 
If I had been invested with the entire patronage of the presidency, I could not 
have been teased and solicited more incessantly. Boys who want to be pages, 


women who want to sell apples, men who want to be clerks have surrounded me 
at every tuxn. Orphans and widows have clustered around me like bees, and 
where they could extract no honey they have left a sting. But the assignments 
of committees has been the hardest work I ever did in my life. In order to get 
through with it in season, I more than once locked myself into my study with a 
confidential clerk from noon till midnight, and now that I have fairly thrown off 
the mountain, I have the discomfort of knowing that I have dissatisfied not^a few 
of my friends and probably all my enemies. Indeed, there is no such thing as 
fully satisfying one's self in the solution of such a problem. Aside from the dif- 
ficulty of reconciling geographical claims, there have been personal embarrass- 
ments. One of them was what to do with J. Q. Adams. Of late years he has 
declined to serve on committees; but this year, perhaps because his own party is 
again in power, he has signified no such purpose. The only place adequate to his 
dignity and experience was the Chairmanship of Foreign Affairs, but his views 
are so peculiar that, in the existing condition of the country, I was afraid to risk it. 

His committee assignments did not give satisfaction to his own 
party friends. The feeling against slavery was growing, and he was 
accused of being too mild in his opposition. Giddings, of Ohio, and 
Adjams and Sumner, of his own State, caused him endless trouble. 
Practically he was accused by them of being false to Northern prin- 
ciples. It was while Mr. Winthrop was Speaker that John Quincy 
Adams fell on the floor of the House, dying shortly afterward. Speaker 
Winthrop, in an impressive manner, made official announcement of 
this sad event. He paid this tribute to the worth and services of the 
Old Man Eloquent: 

Whatever advanced age, long experience, great ability, vast learning, accumu- 
lated public honors, a spotless private character, and firm religious faith could do 
to render any object of interest, respect, and admiration they had done for this 
distinguished person; and interest, respect, and admiration are but feeble terms 
to express the feelings with which the members of this House and the people of 
this country have long regarded him. 

As the time approached in 1848 for the selection of candidates for 
the presidency, political waters were stirred to their depths. Clay, 
Webster, and some others were talked about as the probable candidate 
of the Whigs. The war with Mexico had proved to be more popular 
with the people than had been anticipated, and on the surface affairs 
looked very promising for the Democrats. Mr. Winthrop was one of 
those Whigs who were looking around for a more available candidate 
than either Clay or Webster promised to be. His choice was General 

His own name was frequently mentioned for the second place on the 
ticket, with either Scott or Taylor at the head. But he believed that 
the ticket would be much stronger if Mr. Webster should be given the 
second place. He urged that upon Mr. Webster himself. It was not 
to be Mr. Webster held for the first place or nothing. 

At this time Mr. Winthrop desired to retire from public life. He 
had been a member of the House for a number of years, and had en- 


joyed its highest honor the Speaker ship and he felt disposed to 
take life more easily. Eeluctantly, however, he yielded to the wishes 
of his friends, and was again a candidate and again elected. When the 
Thirty-first Congress met, Mr. Winthrop was again the caucus nomi- 
nee of the Whigs for Speaker. It took nearly three weeks to make a 
selection by the House, more than sixty ballots being taken. Both 
parties were split by factions. Howell Cobb was the regular Demo- 
cratic nominee, but could not command all the Democratic votes in the 
House. Nor could Mr. Winthrop corral all the Whigs. Adding to the 
confusion the Free Soilers had nine votes. Day after day the voting 
went on, the Democrats frequently changing their candidate. At one 
time they brought out William J. Brown, a member from Indiana, and 
on one ballot he reached within two of the number needed to elect. 
Just then some one sprung on the House a letter it was alleged Brown 
had written promising the Free Soilers, in exchange for their votes, 
appointment of committees satisfactory to them. 

At last a resolution was adopted that the roll should be twice called, 
and if no election resulted, a third call should be made, and the person 
having the highest number of votes should be declared the Speaker. 
This gave the coveted place to Mr. Cobb, of Georgia, he receiving 102 
votes to 99 for Mr. Winthrop, the Free Soilers and independent 
Whigs and Democrats scattering their votes. Mr. Winthrop was op- 
posed to slavery, and to the extension of slave territory, but was not 
so radical as some of the others. He was not an abolitionist in any 
sense of that word. It was because of his lack of radicalism the Free 
Soilers refused to vote for Eim. Some of the Southern Whigs refused 
to vote for him because he voted for the Wilmot Proviso. 

Mr. Cobb was a strong pro-slavery man, but was not so bitter 
against those who differed with him as the "fire-eaters" desired, hence 
he was only lukewarmly supported by some of the Southern members. 
Later in the session Mr. Winthrop made a lengthy speech, which he 
called a "Personal Vindication." Two of his assailants were Andrew 
Johnson, of Tennessee, and Joshua Giddings, of Ohio. Of them he said: 

The honorable member from Tennessee (Mr. Andrew Johnson) coming next to 
the onslaught, and doing me the favor to rehearse before my face a speech which 
he had delivered behind my back at the last session, arraigned me in the most 
ferocious terms as having prostituted the prerogatives of the chair to sectional 
purposes, and as having framed all my committees in a manner and with a view 
to do injustice to the South. The honorable member from Ohio (Mr. Giddings), 
following him, after a due delay, denounced me with equal violence as having 
packed the most important of those committees for the purpose of betraying the 
North. The one proclaimed me to be the very author and originator of the Wilmot 
Proviso. The other reproached me as being a downright, or, at least, a disguised 
enemy to the Proviso. The one exclaimed, as the very climax of his condemna- 
tion: "I would sooner vote for Joshua R. Giddings Mmself than for Robert C. 


Winthrop." The other responded with an equally indignant emphasis: "I would 
sooner vote for Howell Cobb than for Robert C. Winthrop~-he cannot be worse; 
he may do better." 

The above is given to show that having been Speaker of the House 
did not prevent assaults on his character, both as a fair and just pre- 
siding officer, and as an honorable man. Those assaults have occa- 
sionally been repeated in the House on other distinguished gentlemen. 
They were by no means confined to the earlier days of the republic. 
Farther along in his "Personal Vindication" he said: 

Sir, I have done with these personalities. They have not been of my seeking. 
They are unnatural and revolting- to ray disposition. I am entirely new to this 
style of debate. During a ten years' occupancy of a seat in this House I have 
never before had occasion to resort to it. But I could no longer submit in silence 
to such gross and groundless assertions. Gentlemen may vote against me when- 
ever they please. There is no office in the gift of the House, of the people, or of 
the President which I covet, or for which I would quarrel with anyone for not 
giving me Ms support. But no man shall slander me with impunity. No man 
shall pervert and misrepresent my words and acts, and falsify the record of my 
public career without exposure. That career has been one of humble pretensions, 
and presents no claim to distinguished service of any sort. But such as it is, I am 
willing that it should be investigated. Examine the record. . . . You will find that 
while I have been true to my constituents, I have been true, also, to the Constitu- 
tion and the Union. This, at least, I know, sir my conscience this day bearing 
me witness that I have been true to myself, to my own honest judgment, to my 
own clear convictions of right, of duty, and of patriotism. 

This speech was circulated in pamphlet form, and added to his 
friends and admirers in Massachusetts and throughout the North. Of 
this speech, one writer, who listened to it, said: "It was a speech of 
uncommon merit, commanding" the close attention of the House. . . . 
He declaimed with great animation in a highly finished style of elocu- 
tion. His remarks were wire-woven. No broken threads or raveled 
edges marred any portion/' At another time he took occasion to ex- 
plain his course with reference to the restriction of slavery in the ter- 
ritories, and in referring to the talk of compromise, he said : 

Gentlemen talk of settling the whole controversy which has been kindled be- 
tween the North and the South by some sweeping compromise, or some compre- 
hensive plan of reconciliation. I trust that the controversy will be settled, sir, but 
I most earnestly hope and pray that it will not so be settled that we shall ever 
again imagine that we can enter with impunity upon a career of aggression, spoli- 
ation, and conquest. This embittered strife, this protracted suspense, these tedious 
days and weeks and months o,f anxiety and agitation will have had their full com- 
pensation and reward if they shall teach us never again to forget the curse which 
has been pronounced upon those "who remove their neighbor's landmarks" if 
they shall teach us to realize, in all time to come, that a policy of peace and of 
justice toward others is the very law and condition of our own domestic harmony. 

A few days after the delivery of this speech President Taylor died 
and Mr. Winthrop, with others, paid a tribute to his memory, an elo- 


quent, yet just, tribute to the patriotism, the honesty of character and 
worth of the hero of Buena Vista. Among other things he said: "I 
hazard nothing, sir, in saying that the roll of our Chief Magistrates 
since 1789, illustrious as it is, presents the name of no man who has 
enjoyed a higher reputation with his cotemporaries, or who will enjoy 
a higher reputation with posterity than Zachary Taylor, for some of 
the best and noblest qualities which adorn our nature. His indomita- 
ble courage, his unimpeachable honesty, his Spartan simplicity and 
sagacity; his frankness, kindness, moderation, and magnanimity; his 
fidelity to his friends ; his generosity and humanity to his enemies, the 
purity of his private life, ihe patriotism of his public principles, will 
never cease to be cherished in the grateful remembrance of all just 
men and all true-hearted Americans*" 

Mr. Webster was made Secretary of State in the Cabinet of Presi- 
dent Fillmore, who succeeded President Taylor. The vacancy thus 
caused in the Senate was immediately filled by the appointment of 
Mr. Winthrop. His service in the Senate lasted only a few months, as 
he was defeated for the full term by Charles Sumner. He was also 
defeated the same year as the Whig candidate for Governor of the 
State. When he entered the Senate the Compromise of 1850 was 
under heated discussion. He made several short speeches on the sub- 
ject. The fugitive slave law was also under discussion, which he op- 
posed. Mr. Winthrop did not take a very active part in the presi- 
dential campaign of 1852. The Massachusetts Whigs had been disap- 
pointed at the defeat of Webster for the nomination, and many of 
them threatened to bolt the ticket. Mr. Winthrop did what he could 
to rally the party to the support of the ticket. 

With the campaign of 1852 the Whig party practically passed out 
of existence. A new party, the Republican, was born. Its two prin- 
ciple theories of government were: a protective tariff, and untiring 
opposition to the further extension of slave territory. A decision by 
the United States Supreme Court, and the attitude of the administra- 
tion of President Pierce toward Kansas had alarmed the North and 
wrought up that section into an almost fever heat on the slavery ques- 
tion. Mr. Winthrop had a hard time to determine what course he 
would take. In a private letter to one of his friends he thus expressed 
his dilemma : 

I cannot go Buchanan and his platform. Personally I could look with com- 
placency upon the election of Fremont and Dayton, the latter, you may remember, 
is one of my best friends, but whether I can see my way clear to giving aid and 
comfort to the Eepublican party and taking my share of the responsibilities of 
the results, is another matter. The resolutions of the Whigs of Maryland come 
nearer my way of thinking than anything I have met with lately, bating, of 
course, some phrases. 


In 1857 he wrote to another friend : 

I am disposed to vote for that one of the other candidates who stands the best 
chance of defeating the Eepublican ticket. The friends with whom I have hereto- 
fore acted seem to entertain the fullest confidence that Governor Gardner is that 
man; and unless I see some stronger reason for distrusting their judgment than I 
do now, I shall give him a vote this year for the first time. If I cannot approve 
every act of his administration thus far, I think it is at least safer "to bear the ills 
we have than fly to others that we know not of." 

Gardner was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachu- 
setts. In 1858 he had definitely decided to cast in his lot with the 
Democrats and to support the congressional ticket of that party. Later 
he said he did not vote the whole Democratic ticket. At this time he 
made another visit to Europe, spending about a year and a half in vis- 
iting and studying the countries over there. In 1860 he decided to 
support the ticket headed by John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, 

Mr. Lincoln was elected, and on his journey to Washington was ex- 
pected to pass through Troy, New York, where a reception was to be 
given to him. Mr. Winthrop was invited to attend and to speak. This 
invitation he declined. In his letter declining the invitation is the fol- 
lowing sentence, in speaking of Mr. Lincoln : "Let him not fail to be 
assured that from us who have voted against him, as from those who 
voted for him, he may confidently rely on a generous sympathy and 
support in every just and reasonable measure which he may adopt to 
maintain the Constitution of the country." 

Although not endorsing the secession of the Southern States, Mr. 
Winthrop was a believer in the doctrine that the people of that section 
were entitled to achieve their independence. He also held with equal 
strength that it was the duty of the President to vindicate the author- 
ity of the government, and that it was the duty of the Northern people 
to support him. 

In 1864 he supported McClellan for the Presidency, rather than Mr. 
Lincoln. He stood by President Johnson in his controversy with Con- 
gress over the reconstruction of the South. In 1868 he supported Sey- 
mour as against Grant, but in 1872 he gave his support and vote for 
Grant as against Greeley. 

During these years when out of public office Mr. Winthrop was fre- 
quently called upon to address some organization, or some public meet- 
ing of the citizens. He was an industrious letter-writter, and his cor- 
respondence would fill several volumes. He took no active part in the 
campaign of 1876, except to declare his intention to cast his vote for 
Mr. Tilden. 

Notwithstanding he was not in active public life, he was still re- 
garded as one of the greatest orators of the country. In 1880 both 
Houses of Congress joined in a request that he become the the orator on 
the occasion of celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the sur~ 

JOHN "W. DAVIS, Indiana 
Twenty-ninth Congress 


Thirtieth Congress 

Thirty-first Congress 

LtNN BOYD, Kentucky 
Thirty-second and Thirty-third 



render of Cornwallis. He accepted, and his address on that occasion is 
regarded as one of his greatest efforts. Let this extract suffice : 

Let me not exaggerate our dangers, or dash the full joy of this anniversary 
by suggesting too strongly that there may be poison in our cup. But I must be 
pardoned, as one of a past generation, for dealing with old-fashioned counsels in 
old-fashioned phrases. Profound dissertations on the nature of governments, 
metaphysical speculations on the true theory of civil liberty, scientific dissections 
of the machinery of our own political system even were we capatile of them 
would be as inappropriate as they would be worthless. Our reliance for the 
preservation of Republican liberty can only be on the common-place principles, 
and common-place maxims, which lie within the comprehension of the children of 
our schools, or of the simplest and least cultured man or woman who wields a 
hammer or who plies a needle. The fear of the Lord must still and ever be the 
beginning of wisdom, and obedience to His Commandments the rule of our lives. 
. . . The rights of the humblest, as well as of the highest, must be respected and 
enforced. Labor, in all its departments, must be justly remunerated and elevated, 
and the true dignity of labor recognized. . , . The great duties of individual citizen- 
ship must be conscientously discharged. Peace, order, and the good old virtues of 
honesty, charity, temperance, and industry must be cultivated and reverenced. 
Public opinion must be refined, purified, strengthened, and rendered prevailing 
and imperative by the best thoughts and best words which the press, the plat- 
form, and the pulpit can pour forth. . . . 

No advanced thought, no mystical philosophy, no glittering abstractions, no 
swelling phrases about freedom not even science, with all its marvellous inven- 
tions and discoveries can help us much in sustaining the Republic. Still less 
can any godless theories of creation or any infidel attempts to rule out the Re- 
deemer from His rightful supremacy in our hearts afford us any hope of security. 
That way lies despair. Common-place truths, old familiar teachings, the Ten 
Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Farewell Address of Washington, 
honesty, virtue, patriotism, universal education are what the world most needs in 
these days, and our own part of the world as much as any other part. Without 
these we are lost. 

In 1884 Mr. Winthrop had a very severe spell of sickness, from 
which he never fully recovered. He had just been invited by the two 
Houses of Congress to deliver the oration on the completion of the 
Washington Monument. Thirty-six years before he had been the ora- 
tor on the occasion of laying the cornerstone of the monument, and 
now, although far advanced in years, he was to be the orator on its 
final completion and dedication. This dedication was to take place on 
the 22nd of February, 1885. He prepared the oration, but was so 
feeble in health that he could not go to Washington to deliver it. He 
sent it to a friend, John D. Long, afterward Secretary of the Navy, to 
read. These two orations, one on the laying of the cornerstone and the 
other at the completion of the structure have been regarded as his two 
greatest oratorical efforts. 

Mr. Winthrop was a great admirer of Mr. Cleveland, and although 
he did not fail to recognize the mental qualities of Benjamin Harrison, 
he very much regretted his success over Mr. Cleveland in 1888. He 
had not taken a very active part in the campaign of that year, but his 


influence was given in support of the New York statesman. He had 
outlived the most of his friends ; all, or nearly all of those who had 
served with him in Congress had passed over the Great Divide, and 
he felt that his time must shortly come to join them. His private cor- 
respondence at that time discloses that his memory often went back to 
the days of his former triumphs, and to the friends who had labored 
with him in the cause of liberty. He died as he had lived, a Christian 
gentleman. He died full of earthly honors, and of years. The pub- 
lished addresses and speeches of Mr. Winthrop fill four volumes. They 
are a storehouse of political history. He had vast learning, a personal 
knowledge of what was occurring, and an acquaintance with the mo- 
tives which inspired others who were prominent in national affairs. 
He had been an actor in many of the most important affairs of the 
government for more than half a century. 

As a Speaker of the House Mr. Winthrop was a worthy successor 
to Henry Clay, his great predecessor. He was dignified, courteous, 
and at all times affable. His decisions on disputed parliamentary 
questions have always been regarded as precedents, and have, in the 
main, been followed by his successors. He was a master of parliamen- 
tary law. He was firm, but never dogmatic. He had a stormy time 
of it, as he served just as the bitterness engendered over the slavery 
question was reaching its climax. He may have had ambitions to 
some time sit in the seat of Washington and Jefferson. If so, he died a 
disappointed man> for at no time in his public life did his party even 
talk of elevating him to that place. He will be remembered as an orator 
of surpassing brilliancy, and not for any great act of statesmanship. 


HOWELL COBB Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 
Thirty-first Congress. Born in Cherry Hill, Georgia, September 
7, 1816. Son of Col. John A. and Sarah R. (Rootes) Cobb. Educated 
at Franklin College. Married in 1835, Miss Mary Ann Lamar. Died 
in New York, October 9, 1868. 

Howell Cobb easily takes rank among the great men of Georgia. His 
father was distinguished in politics, although never an office-seeker or 
an office-holder. He was a man of wealth, and in order to give his chil- 
dren an opportunity to secure the education he desired for them he 
removed, when Howell was but a small boy, to Athens. The Academy 
and University there offered superior opportunities, and the lad Howeil 
eagerly took advantage of them. 

It has been said of him by his biographers that he was not a hard 
student, but possessing a fine mind he learned rapidly, leaving the 
years to come to store his mind with the learning for which he was 


noted in his public career. In his student days he displayed at all times 
a consideration for others, and his generous and kindly spirit soon 
earned him friendships that ended only in death. He gave no display 
of unusual talents in any direction, and no one prophesied for him the 
distinction he afterward earned. 

After graduating from college withMgh honors hebegan the study of 
law. Such was his assiduity at that time that after a study of but two 
years he was admitted to practice. He must have impressed himself 
very quickly on the people, for in 1837, after only two years at the 
bar, the Legislature elected him Solicitor General for the Western 
Circuit of the State. This was a prominent position, giving him charge 
of all cases wherein the State was interested, either criminal or civil. 
He filled this office to the satisfaction of the people, and while doing so 
added to his popularity. He took rank among the ablest attorneys of 
the State. 

In 1842 he was elected to the Twenty-eighth Congress and was re- 
elected to the Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth and Thirty-first Congresses, 
being Speaker of the Thirty-first. He was a Democrat of the Jackson 
school. He ardently believed in the doctrine of States' Rights, but also 
believed in the Union, looking to the Union as the best protector of the 
rights of the States. Before his election to Congress he had estab- 
lished a State-wide reputation as a platform orator. He possessed a 
large share of that fiery, impetuous eloquence so common in the South. 
In the House of Representatives he quickly took a leading place on the 
Democratic side. It was at the time when President Tyler was break- 
ing away from the Whigs, the party that had elected him to the Vice- 
Presidency. Mr. Coob during the campaign of 1840 had taken an 
active part in support of Van Buren, especially in his contest with Con- 
gress over the establishment of the Sub-Treasury System. He became 
influential with President Tyler, and was an advocate of the annexa- 
tion of Texas, then one of the issues before the House. 

He believed in slavery as an institution, and that it was vital to the 
prosperity of the South, hence was warm in his support of the move- 
ment for extending the area of that institution by annexing the great 
territory embraced in Texas. He was also an admirer of John C. Cal- 
houn, Tyler's Secretary of State, but did not accept his scheme of nulli- 
fication. It was Calhoun who drove through Congress the resolution 
of annexation, and one of his principal backers was the young member 
from Georgia. 

Texas annexed, war came as a result. Polk was President and Mr. 
Cobb became one of his closest advisers. A number of times during 
the war the Whigs in both the Senate and the House frequently bitterly 
attacked the administration. Mr. Cobb was one of its strongest de- 
fenders. The Democratic slogan during the campaign of 1844 had 
been "Fifty-four Forty, or Fight/' This had reference to the bound- 


ary of Oregon. Elected on that implied pledge, President Polk sought 
a compromise with Great Britain, departing largely from the claims 
of the United States. This aroused bitter antagonism in the ranks of 
the Democrats, some of them denouncing the President in the most 
bitter language. On this question, as on that of the annexation of 
Texas, Mr. Cobb stood by the President. 

The session of the Thirty-first Congress was a noted session. It 
opened on December 3, 1849, and continued until September 30, 1850. 
Its very opening was somewhat dramatic. The Democrats had a ma- 
jority in the House, but were divided by factions. Mr. Coob was the 
party nominee for Speaker, but several of the Democrats refused to 
vote for Mm. These belonged to that wing of the party called "Free- 
soil Democrats." 

Eobert C* Winthrop was the Whig candidate, but he had trouble in 
his party also. The balloting for Speaker continued for several weeks, 
more than sixty ballots being taken. Finally a resolution was adopted 
by a majority vote providing that three more roll calls should be had, 
and if no candidate had received a majority of all the votes, then the 
roll should be called once more, and the candidate receiving the highest 
number should be Speaker. Under that resolution Mr. Cobb was 
elected, receiving one hundred and two votes against ninety-nine for 
Mr. Winthrop. 

The regularity of his election was questioned by his opponents, they 
setting up the claim that the rules of the House made a majority neces- 
sary to the election of a Speaker. Mr. Cobb held that a majority hav- 
ing voted for the resolution, his selection required no further action by 
the House. A number of years later when a similar contest over the 
choice of a Speaker occurred, and was settled in the same way, and its 
legality called in question Mr. Cobb said : 

Allusion has been made to what occurred here at the time that I was elected 
Speaker of this House; and as I differ with some of my friends with reference to 
their construction of what was done then, and what is necessary to be done BOW, 
and as I may be called upon to vote upon some resolution concerned with this mat- 
ter, I desire to place myself right before the House, and to give the reasons for 
the vote which I shall give. In 1849, when it was determined to adopt the plu- 
rality rule, it was assailed as violative of the Constitution. In order to avoid any 
difficulty upon that subject it was, by general consent among those who were in 
favor of it, agreed that a resolution should be offered affirming the election, and 
that was done. At the time, occupying the position that I did, I was asked the 
question, "Whether, in my opinion, it was necessary that this should be done?" I 
gave the same opinion then that I entertain now, and that I have repeatedly given 
when asked the question during this convass j and I feel it due to candor now to 
state it. I hold that it is necessary for a majority to elect a Speaker; but I hold, 
at the same time, that a majority of this House adopting the plurality rule, where 
a plurality vote is cast for any member, he is elected by virtue of the resolution 
originally adopted by a majority of the House. 

When, sir, it was thought there was a probability that the gentleman for whom 
I voted would be elected, I gave that opinion then. I also gave it to those on the 


other side of the House who thought proper to ask my opinion upon the subject. I 
entertain no doubt in reference to it. Therefore, I cannot agree with either of my 
friends from Kentucky that it is incumbent upon those who voted for the plurality 
rule to perfect the election of Mr. Banks by a resolution. I think Mr. Banks has 
already been elected. 

While Mr. Cobb was Speaker the most intense excitement prevailed 
not only in Congress, but throughout the country over the admission 
of California. Of course slavery was the exciting- cause of the agita- 
tion. Speaker Cobb firmly believed that the compromise, if accepted, 
would insure peace in the country, and prevent a dissolution of the 
Union, and he gave it his warmest support. He did not take a promi- 
nent part in the debate on the compromise, but he used all his influence 
in its favor. It was largely due to the influence thus exerted that the 
compromise was finally agreed to by the House. 

His action on the compromise made him many enemies in the South, 
and he was denounced in the strongest terms, even by his own party 
friends. It did not swerve him a bit. He loved peace; he wanted 
peace ; he wanted the slavery question put out of the way, and he be- 
lieved all this would be accomplished if the compromise were accepted 
in good faith, and lived up to. He was a partisan of the severest 
school, and a Southerner in every thought, yet he was broad enough to 
take the whole country in view, and to realize that peace was necessary 
to the continued prosperity of the country. 

At the close of the Thirty-first Congress Mr. Cobb retired from the 
House. Returning to Georgia he found that he would have to defend 
himself before the people. He had been assailed in the most bitter 
terms, and if he was to retain his hold on the people he must meet and 
repel the attacks. This he did in a most successful manner. At that 
time there was no man in Georgia who could successfully meet him on 
the platform. 

His party was divided into two factions, one known as the "South- 
ern Rights/' and the other as the "Union" party. A Governor was to 
be elected and Mr. Cobb was nominated by the Union wing of the 
party. The canvass which followed was one of more than usual bitter- 
ness and excitement. Mr. Cobb traveled to every part of the State, 
making speeches in every county. So earnest was he, so eloquently did 
he defend the compromise and his action in connection with it, that he 
was elected by the largest majority ever given in that State. His 
administration as Governor was successful, and of great benefit to the 
State. At the end of his term in 1852 he returned to his home in 
Athens, and again began the practice of his profession. 

In 1852 he supported Mr. Pierce for the Presidency, but did not take 
any very active part. The attempt to repeal the Missouri Compromise 
was then formulating, and the country was again in that heat of ex- 
citement over the slavery question. The Democratic party in Georgia 


was once more united, and, in fact, was a unit on the burning question 
of slavery. In 1855 he was once more sent to the House by his old dis- 
trict. His party in the House was in a hopeless minority as to slavery. 
It was the Congress in which Nathaniel P. Banks was elected Speaker. 
While he spoke several times, Mr. Cobb did not join in any of the vio- 
lent demonstrations which enlivened the sessions of the House. 

In 1856 he visited several of the Northern States, making speeches in 
the interest of Mr. Buchanan in his candidacy for President. It was 
then he formed the intimacy with Mr. Buchanan which ripened later 
into an offer of a seat in the Cabinet. Before his inauguration Mr. 
Buchanan tendered to Mr. Cobb the portfolio of State, but this was 
declined. He was then offered the Secretaryship of the Treasury which 
he accepted. 

Mr. Cobb's friends claimed that he was, in fact, the real leader of the 
Cabinet, and that the President depended upon him in every emerg- 
ency, frequently consulting him on matters of foreign policy. The 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise had worked disaster, politically, 
throughout the country. It opened once more the agitation of the 
slavery question, and involved all parties, and all sections of the coun- 
try. Kansas was knocking at the door of the Union, and a most de- 
termined effort was being made to bring Kansas into the Union as a 
slave State. The Eepublican party was daily growing stronger in the 
North, and before Mr. Buchanan's term reached its end disunion was 
in the air. The Cabinet was divided, and only a few weeks before he 
was^to relinquish his office the President was forced to reorganize the 
Cabinet. Secretary of State Cass gave way to Jere. Black, and Mr. 
Cobb to John A. Dix. 

Mr. Cobb had not been one of the original secessionists, but now 
threw himself heart and soul for a dissolution of the Union. He re- 
turned to Georgia when he gave up his Cabinet seat and at once took 
the lead in securing the secession of the State. It has always been 
doubted that Georgia would have joined South Carolina in leaving the 
Union had not Mr. Cobb led in the movement. Had he taken the side 
of the Union the Empire State of the South, so it has been frequently 
declared, would have stood by the old flag. He made speeches for seces- 
sion in nearly every county of the State, and although he was not a 
member of the convention which declared Georgia free from its con- 
nection with the Union, his influence dominated that body. 

When the war actually came Mr. Cobb recruited a regiment for the 
Southern cause, and led it to the front. He was engaged in most of the 
battles on the Peninsula when General McClellan undertook to capture 
Kichmond. He followed Lee in his invasion of Maryland, and took 
part in the battle of Antietam, or Sharpsburg, as it is called in the 
boutn. By that time he was a Brigadier General in command of a bri~ 


gade. He was later made a Major General and remained with the 
army until the end came at Appomattox. 

After the surrender General Cobb returned to his home in Athens. 
There he was arrested by the Federal authorities on an order from 
Washington. There was no ground for this arrest, as he was protected 
by the terms of surrender. He was ordered taken to Washington, but 
when the officer in charge of him reached Nashville he was ordered to 
release Mr. Cobb and permit him to go wherever it pleased him. He 
returned once more to Athens. 

Mr. Cobb had not confined himself wholly to political affairs after 
he entered public life. He was ever a warm and earnest friend of the 
cause of education. He was for several years a Trustee of the Uni- 
versity of Georgia, and took an active interest in everything concern- 
ing that institution. 

The war had left him somewhat straitened in financial circum- 
stances. He had lost much by the war. It has been said that when 
the war began he was the owner of more than a thousand slaves, and 
of several large plantations. The emancipation of the slaves left him 
with large landed interests, but little means to make those interests 
profitable. As a lawyer he commanded a wide practice, but poverty 
was the lot of the South just then, and there was not a great financial 
return from his practice. He had always been a liberal giver to all 
calls of charity, and he felt the deprivation of still giving more than 
he did the actual loss of his great wealth. He was not long to survive 
the cause to which he had given of his strength and vitality. The end 
came suddenly, came without warning, and came when he was away 
from home. In the fall of 1868 he had occasion to visit New York. 
He visited several points in that State, all the time apparently in the 
best of health. He was in the city of New York making arrangements 
to return to Georgia. His death is thus related by one who was with 
him. "He was standing on the parlor floor of the Fifth Avenue hotel, 
conversing with the Right Rev. Bishop Beckwith, in relation to a 
sermon preached by the latter. As we were about parting at the head 
of the stairs on the parlor floor, Mrs. Cobb and Miss Mary Cobb made 
their appearance, descending. The General asked the Bishop to remain 
and be introduced. He did so, and Mrs. Cobb and the Bishop imme- 
diately commenced conversation upon the same subject. The General 
quickly threw his hands to his head, walked around and took his seat 
upon the stairs, and within a very few minutes expired without saying 
a word." The announcement of his death created a great shock among 
the people of Georgia, for it was agreed by all that no man was so well 
loved as was Howell Cobb. 

Something of the estimate in which he was held by the people of 
Georgia, and especially by his immediate neighbors, can be gathered 


from the expressions given by leading men. Of him Rev. Dr. William 
Brandy, of Atlanta, who knew him well, said: 

An illustrious man lias fallen. Whether we consider his intellectual endow- 
ments, the commanding force of his oratory, the extensive influence he wielded, the 
high positions he so long and so ably filled both in the State and the National 
Councils, or his ardent and disinterested patriotism, it must be conceded by all 
parties, that he was one of the most distinguished men Georgia has ever produced. 
Self-possessed, discriminating, prompt and impartial, he was, as a presiding offi- 
cer, fully the peer of the ablest man who ever preceded or followed him in the 
Speaker's Chair of the National House of Representatives. 

Hon. Julius Hillyer, who was long his partner in the practice of law, 

In his political life, General Cobb arose far above the position of a mere party 
leader. His statesmanship reached a high nationality, and embraced within its 
compass all the interests of his country. Throughout the whole breadth of the 
realm, the views of General Cobb were understood and quoted as authority, . . . 
He was eminently a national man, and his reputation constitutes a part of the 
rich treasures of the American people, 

As Speaker of the House of Representatives the record shows that 
he enjoyed the respect of the members of the House without distinction 
of party. This is more to his credit because he served at a time when 
the House was torn by dissensions, and party spirit ran to bitterness, 
when all sense of propriety or what was due to the dignity of the House 
was seemingly lost. Amid it all the Speaker was calm, dignified, just, 
yet firm. He controlled the House and led the members to more peace- 
ful attitudes. As a legislator he originated no great scheme of govern- 
mental policy; as Secretary of the Treasury he displayed admirable 
administrative abilities, but was not a great Minister of Finance, as 
were some of these who preceded him, and some who have followed 
him. He was, however, a statesman of rare ability. 


LINN BOYD Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Thirty- 
second and Thirty-third Congresses. Born in Nashville, Tennes- 
see, November 22, 1800. Son of Abraham Boyd. Education limited. 
Married October 20, 1832, Miss Alice C. Bennett ; April 14, 1850, Mrs. 
Ann L. Dixon. Died at Paducah, Kentucky, December 17, 1859. 

The Boyd family was a distinguished family in Virginia, South Car- 
olina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. They were descendants of Robert 
Burns, the great poet of the people. In the early history of the settle- 
ment of Virginia the Boyds were prominent. Later a branch removed 
to South Carolina. It is from that branch the subject of this sketch 


In the war for independence the Boyds took the part of the Colonies, 
a number of them serving in the patriot army. Abraham, the father 
of Linn, was but sixteen years of age when he enlisted to fight the 
armies of the King. Peace opened up a great field for the emigrant in 
what was then the west. Tennessee, Kentucky, and the territory 
northwest of the Ohio River were waiting for the coming of pioneers. 
In 1788 Abraham Boyd and Andrew Jackson left their South Carolina 
homes, crossed the mountains, locating at first in the little village of 
Nashville. The two adventurous youths were boyhood friends, and 
their friendship lasted through life. In 1803 Mr. Boyd removed to 
Kentucky, but he remained true to his friendship for Jackson. 

In 1819 he was appointed one of the commissioners to treat with the 
Indians and to purchase from them their right to the territory east 
of the Ohio River. Linn grew up in this pioneer country, with but 
little opportunity to secure an education. He was possessed, however, 
with great natural talents, and he made the best use possible of the 
opportunities before him. In 1826 he removed to Galloway County, 
and such was the popularity he earned that the next year his neigh- 
bors sent him to represent them in the Legislature. He served two 
years, and in 1830 he was again elected for another two years. He 
developed power as a ready speaker, and in 1832 he was urged by 
his friends to stand for a seat in the National House of Representa- 
tives. He failed of an election, but running again in 1834, he was 
successfully elected. He entered Congress as a devoted friend and 
supporter of President Jackson. 

It was a stormy period. Jackson's Cabinet was breaking to pieces 
over social matters, the fight against the United States Bank was 
looming darkly over the political horizon. South Carolina was causing 
trouble over the tariff, and threatening to nullify the act of Congress. 
Through it all Mr. Boyd stood by the Old Hero. All this so angered 
the voters of his district that he lost the election in 1836, but was suc- 
cessful two years later, and was returned at each election until he had 
served eighteen years. 

He began his congressional career when Andrew Jackson was Presi- 
dent, and closed it while Frank Pierce held that high office. When 
Texas was knocking at the door for entrance into the Union, Mr. Boyd 
was one of the committee selected to prepare a plan for the annexation 
of the Lone Star State. It was fully understood it could not be accom- 
plished by a treaty, as that would require a two-thirds vote in the 
Senate, and that vote could not be obtained. So some other plan had 
to be adopted. It has been claimed for Mr. Boyd that he was the 
author of the plan which was finally adopted, that of securing the an- 
nexation by resolution, which would require only a majority vote. 

He also drew up the bill of complaint against Mexico, which was 
virtually a declaration of war against that country. As all students 


of history know, the annexation of Texas opened wide the agitation 
of slavery. On that subject Mr. Boyd stood with Clay and Webster 
for the Union. He supported the compromise measure of 1850. He 
loved the Union and ever frowned upon the talk of disunion. In every 
respect he was a remarkable man, and for a score of years stood as one 
of the leaders of the Democratic party. As a debator, he was quick 
and strong. He could not be classed as one of the great orators of Ms 
day, but he was a speaker of more than ordinary strength. His influ- 
ence with his colleagues was more a personal influence than by ora- 
tory. Ben. Hardin, who for years was one of his colleagues in the 
House, and who knew him well, thus appraises him in his book of 
reminiscences : 

"Linn Boyd was a native of Tennessee, where he grew to manhood, 
then emigrating to Kentucky. His first official position was that of 
sheriff. In his twenty-seventh year he entered the Legislature, repre- 
senting Graves, Hickman, McCracken, and Galloway Counties. This 
was in 1827. The following year he was a member for Galloway, and 
in 1831 for Trigg County. He began a long and brilliant congressional 
career in the Twenty-fourth Congress, serving altogether eighteen 
years, during four of which he was Speaker of the House. He had 
begun life with limited education, and under no other auspices than 
his indomitable will and tireless energy. In his last years he aspired 
to the United States Senate. With a view to this he sought the Demo- 
cratic nomination for Governor in 1859, but, being defeated, he was, 
against his protest, nominated for Lieutenant Governor. The ticket 
that year was not infrequently called the 'Kangaroo ticket/ He was 
elected, but died before entering upon the duties of office.'* 


XT ATHANIBL PRENTISS BANKS Speaker of the House of Representa- 
IN tives in the Thirty-fourth Congress. Born in Waltham, Massa- 
chusetts, January 30, 1816. Son of Nathaniel Prentiss and Rebecca 
(Greenwood) Banks. Educated in common schools* Married April 
16, 1847, Miss Mary Palmer. Died in Walthani, Massachusetts, Sep- 
tember 1, 1894. 

For more than a third of a century Nathaniel Prentiss Banks was 
an outstanding figure in the history of the country. He was elected 
a member of the National House of Representatives ten times, but not 
consecutively. His first election was as a coalition Democrat. It was at 
a time when the old parties were going to pieces, and new parties were 
forming. Slavery was the agitating issue and the Democratic party 
had split in the North. The American or Know Nothing party was 
strong in a number of the States both North and South. The Whig: 


party had practically gone out of existence, and the Republican was 
beginning to function. 

In Mr. Banks' district neither party was strong enough to send one 
of its members to Congress, but by a coalition of the Anti-slavery 
Democrats and the Know Nothings Mr. Banks succeeded in securing 
the election. At that time he was known as a Democrat. His first 
election was to the Thirty-third Congress. He was reelected to the 
Thirty-fourth as an American, and to the Thirty-fifth as a Republican. 
He was then out of Congress for several years, but in 1865 he was once 
more a member, being elected as a Republican to the Thirty-ninth, 
Fortieth, Forty-first, and Forty-second Congresses, and as Liberal 
Republican to the Forty-fourth and Forty-fifth Congresses. 

Mr. Banks was another of the illustrations of the opportunities 
before every American boy. Born to poverty, working, at a very ten- 
der age, in a factory, getting his education through his own unaided 
efforts; with a steady aim and a great natural ability he climbed up 
the ladder until he nearly reached the highest round known to Ameri- 
can political or official life. In studying the character and achieve- 
ments of such a man as Nathaniel P. Banks proved to be, it is well to 
begin the study in his days of boyhood, for it is in the days of boyhood 
the foundation for the superstructure is laid, and the superstructure 
depends for its fulfillment on the soundness of the foundation. 

As Henry Clay in the days of his political prosperity was called "The 
Mill Boy of the Slashes/' so Nathaniel P. Banks was called by his 
friends, "The Bobbin Boy of Waltham." This name he derived from 
the fact that when a very small boy he worked for several months as 
"bobbin boy" in a factory in his native town. From that he graduated 
to the machine shop and became a really good machinist. All this 
before he proved his worth to his fellow citizens as an orator. 

He was a precocious boy but had to struggle with many difficulties in 
obtaining even the foundation of an education. He had learned, 
through the teachings of his mother, to read before he was old enough 
to begin a school life, and from the very beginning of his being able to 
place words together and to know their meaning he displayed a passion 
for reading, and read every book that he could get into his possession. 
He could hardly be induced to take enough sleep to sustain himself 
physically if he could but get a book to read. 

When he was old enough to enter school he quickly took a first place 
through his studious habits. He was usually the first in his studies in 
each class, and it is said of him that at a very early age he attracted 
the attention of his teachers and others by his fondness for declama- 
tions, and the rare ability he displayed in rendering the thoughts of 
others in a public manner. In athletics he surpassed all his school- 
mates, and it is probably due to his indulgence in athletic sports which 
kept him physically strong when so much of his time was given to 
reading and study. 


His school days were destined to soon end, however, owing to the 
fact that it became necessary for him to aid the family by his earning 
power. It was a great sorrow to the lad to give up his school, but he 
did not falter. A place as bobbin boy was vacant in a factory and 
Nathaniel, or Nat, as he was called, applied for and obtained the place. 
In that employment he was as steady and as faithful as he had been in 
school, and soon won the respect of those immediately over him in the 

Fortunately for him the owners of the factory maintained a small 
but carefully selected library for the use of the employees, and of this 
the young bobbin boy made good use. His hours during the day were 
given to the work assigned him, but the evenings and Sundays were 
mainly given to reading, thus storing his mind with the best thoughts 
of the writers of the books. Shakespeare early became a favorite with 
him, as did Locke's "Essary on the Understanding/' He lost no time in 
idleness. With him it was work, then study. It is recorded of him 
that on one occasion he walked to Boston, a distance of more than ten 
miles, and expended the only dollar he possessed in the purchase of a 
book. Also that on more than one occasion he took the same long walk 
to listen to the speaking of Webster and Edward Everett, the two 
great orators of that time. 

He early developed a facility for public speaking that attracted the 
attention of the people of the little town in which he lived. A "debat- 
ing society" had been formed in Waltham and young Banks was one of 
its members. From this an amateur dramatic society was formed, 
for the purpose of producing some of Shakespeare's plays. This, it 
was said, alarmed the good people of Waltham, who looked upon the- 
atricals as demoralizing, and were to be condemned. The discussion 
grew so warm that a debate on the subject followed. The question for 
debate was, "Are dramatic exhibitions beneficial to society?" The an- 
nouncement of the debate drew a large audience, and several of the 
best speakers of the town were to take part on one side or the other 
of the question. Young Banks was in the audience, showing restive 
feeling as the debate progressed. After the regularly appointed de- 
baters had finished what they had to say the discussion was thrown 
open to any others who might like to take a part. When this was an- 
nounced Banks sprang to his feet, and fairly electrified the audience. 
This was his introduction as a public speaker to the people first of 
Waltham, and. within a very few months to the people of Massa- 

He began to take interest in political matters, joining the Demo- 
cratic party. He was opposed to slavery, and belonged to that wing of 
the Democratic party which refused to give adherence to all the de- 
mands of the South. Massachusetts had long been under the domi- 
nance of the Whigs, but that party was fast passing out of organized 


existence. He had so quickly established a reputation as an orator 
that when he announced himself as a "Jeffersonian Democrat," that 
party hailed him as a most promising recruit, although he had not yet 
reached the age giving him a voting privilege. He had attempted to 
study law, but so many were the calls on him for public addresses that 
he could give scant time to the study of that intricate science. He kept 
up his reading in spite of all interruptions, yet gave much of his time 
to delivering addresses whenever called upon. 

He became editor of a local paper and proved he could write as well 
as talk. This brought him into a closer connection with the politics of 
the day, and with the politicians. It was while thus engaged he 
determined to study law, but gave so much of his time to public ad- 
dresses that he failed to master the" intricacies of that science. He suc- 
ceeded far enough to secure admission to the bar, but never actively 
engaged in the practice. 

Slavery, even then, was one of the exciting things in politics. Mr. 
Banks was a Democrat but was not in sympathy with his party in its 
attitude as to slavery. In the course of time the differences in the 
party resulted in the organization of what is known in history as the 
"Free Soil Democrats." To this wing of the party Mr. Banks gave his 
allegiance. In 1849 he was elected a member of the Massachusetts 
House of Representatives, the youngest member at that time. He 
early distinguished himself as a debater of rare ability, as well as an 
eloquent and effective orator. He was reelected several times, always 
serving with ability. At one time he was Speaker of the House. 

In 1853 Massachusetts had a convention to revise the constitution, 
Mr. Banks was elected a delegate to that convention, and on its as* 
sembling was made president of that body. His fame and his popu- 
larity steadily increased. He was elected a member of the House of 
Reprseentatives in the Thirty-third Congress. He was reelected to the 
Thirty-fourth Congress. The slavery agitation was at its height, and 
the session promised to be a stormy one from the opening day. 

The first struggle was over the election of a Speaker, and the strug- 
gle continued from the first Monday in December, 1855, to the second 
day of the following February. Mr. Banks was the candidate of a 
coalition between the Republicans and the anti-slavery Americans. It 
was a long, wearisome, and very often stormy struggle. The Ameri- 
cans held the balance of power, but those from the South would not 
vote for a candidate who opposed slavery, while those from the North- 
ern States would not vote for a pro-slavery man. Thus they were 
divided into factions. At last, worn out, the House by a resolution 
agreed to by a majority provided that after two roll calls without 
result a third call should be had, when the candidate receiving the 
highest number of votes should be Speaker. On the 133rd ballot Mr. 
Banks was named Speaker. On taking the chair Mr. Banks said : 


Before I proceed to complete my acceptance of the office to which I am elected, 
I will avail myself of your indulgence to express my acknowledgments for the honor 
conferred upon me. It would afford me far greater pleasure in taking the chair 
of the House were I supported even by the self-assurance that I could bring to the 
discharge of its duties, always arduous and delicate, and now environed with 
unusual difficulties, any capacity commensurate with their responsibility and 
dignity. I can only say that, in so far as I am able, I shall discharge my duty 
with fidelity to the Constitution, and with impartiality as it regards the rights 
of members. I have no personal objects to accomplish. I am animated by the 
single desire that I may in some degree aid in maintaining the well-established 
princples of our Government in their original and American signification; in 
developing the material interests of that portion of the continent we occupy, so 
far as we may do within the limited and legitimate powers conferred upon us ; in 
enlarging and swelling the capacity of our Government for beneficent influences 
at home and abroad; and, above all, in preserving intact and in perpetuity the 
priceless privileges transmitted to us. 

As to his qualifications as a Speaker perhaps there were none in the 
country better able to judge than the late John W. Forney, who was 
for so many years Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate. 
Writing some years after the exciting events of the election and serv- 
ices of Mr. Banks, he said : "General Banks has just been defeated for 
Congress in Massachusetts, after a long career, but I cannot forget 
the manner in which he pronounced his inaugural address as Speaker 
of the House sixteen years ago. His deportment during the succeeding 
session, his impartiality, his courtesy, and his uniform integrity, 
proved him to be an unrivaled statesman, and I am not without hope 
that we shall hear of him honorably in the future. Quitman, Barks- 
dale, Rust, Keitt, Eustis, and other Southern fire-eaters have gone to 
their last account. They were men of varied and distinguished abili- 
ties, and yet not one of them, if he could speak from his grave, but 
would say that Nathaniel P. Banks was a just and honest presiding 

By the time that session of the House terminated the American 
party ceased to exist, and Mr. Banks allied himself with the new Re- 
publican party. By them he was elected to succeed himself in the 
House, where he served until he resigned to become Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts. He was twice reelected to that office. His services as Chief 
Magistrate of the State gave uniform satisfaction to his party, and 
they resulted in increased honor for the State. On the expiration of 
his third term as Governor he retired from public life. Being elected 
President of the Illinois Central Railroad he removed to Chicago, and 
was there when the firing upon Fort Sumter precipitated civil war. 

Mr. Banks at once resigned his office with the railroad and offered 
his services to the Government. He was commissioned a Major Gen- 
eral of volunteers. His first services as a soldier was in the East, 
where he fought his first battle. It was at Winchester he was so famous 
during the Civil War. He remained in the Shenandoah Valley for 


some months, advancing, retreating, fighting. Sometimes he was mod- 
erately successful in the fighting, and other times he was the defeated 

New Orleans had been captured by the Union forces and placed 
under the command of General Ben. Butler. His iron rule made him 
exceedingly obnoxious to the South, and many complaints were rife 
in the North. The administration finally found itself forced to change 
commanders at that important point. General Banks was selected. 
His government of the city was, in the main, admirable, but his mili- 
tary exploits, except in the instance of the reduction of Port Hudson, 
were notable for their failure. 

In 1864 he was relieved of his command, and resigned his commis- 
sion as Major General. On his return to Massachusetts he was again 
elected to Congress, and was continually reelected until 1877, when 
he was appointed United States Marshal for Massachusetts. During 
those years in Congress his voice was always heard for the Union, for 
the growth and prosperity of the whole country. He did not accept all 
that his party declared for, and became what was known as a "Liberal 
Republican." He was not always in harmony with his party on the 
question of the reconstruction of the lately seceded States. 

There is, and perhaps always will be, a difference in the estimate 
placed upon the ability of Mr. Banks. As a soldier he was patriotic 
but failed as a commander of an army. He lacked the training for 
military service of a higher order, and lacked the genius for war pos- 
sessed in so eminent a degree by John A. Logan, Frank P. Blair, and 
J. D. Cox, who without training became great commanders. It would 
have been better for his reputation, and, also, for the country, had Mr. 
Banks not been given a command in the Army. The difference of 
opinion will be as to his qualities as a stateman. He was a great man 
and deserved all the civil honors bestowed upon him. In Congress he 
served on many important committees, and in 1869 was Chairman of 
the Committee on Foreign Relations, and led the Committee and the 
House through several important and troublesome affairs. Perhaps 
there were none of his cotemporaries better able to speak of him 
than the late Senator George F. Hoar. In his autobiography Mr. Hoar 
draws this picture of Mr. Banks : 

I do not think his countrymen have estimated Nathaniel P. Banks at his true 
value. When he left office at the ripe age of seventy-five a public service ended 
surpassed in variety and usefulness by that of few citizens of Massachusetts since 
the days of John Adams. He bore a great part in a great history. Men who saw 
Mm in his later life, a feeble, kindly old man, with only the remains of his stately 
courtesy, had little conception of the figure of manly strength and dignity he pre- 
sented when he presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1853, or took the 
oath of office as Governor in 1858. He raised himself from a humble place, 
unaided, under the stimulant of a native and eager desire for excellence. He was 
always regarded by the working people of Massachusetts as the type of what was 


best in themselves and as the example and representative of the great opportunity 
which the Republic holds out to its poorest citizens and their children. He was a 
natural gentleman, always kindly and true. From this trait and not because of 
want of fidelity to his own convictions he found as warm friends among his politi- 
cal opponents as among Ms political associates. . . 

The older public men of Massachusetts did not take kindly to Banks. He was a 
man of the people. He was sometimes charged, though unjustly, with being a 
demagogue. He sometimes erred in his judgment. But he was a man of large 
and comparative visions, of independence, and exerted his vast influence with the 
people for high ends. He might justly be called, like the negro Totissaint, L'Ouver- 
tare, The Opener. His election as Governor extracted the people from the mire 
of Know-nothingism. His election as Speaker of the Massachusetts House of 
Eepresentatives was part of the first victory over the Whig dynasty which had 
kept the State contrary to its best traditions, in alliance with slavery. His elec- 
tion as Speaker of the United States House of Eepresentatives was the first 
National Republican victory. 

As an orator Mr. Banks was entitled to a place among the greatest 
of his day. His arguments were close, his reasoning logical, while his 
command of the English language gave him the power to express his 
thoughts in a manner that often reached the highest eloquence. His 
administration of the office of Governor of Massachusetts won high 
praises even from his political foes. Honest, upright, no corruption 
ever stained his name. He hated slavery because it was slavery ; he 
loved the country and the Union ; he saw a future wherein the United 
States would hold the highest place among the nations of the earth, if 
the Union was preserved, and with that exalted idea he battled with 
the enemies of the Union. 

He had an ambition to be President. It was a laudable ambition, 
but it had not caused him to waver in his policies, nor did he permit it 
to embitter his life, as the same ambition had done with some of the 
other great men of the nation. In his boyhood he longed for an educa- 
tion. He frequently told how he had worked in a mill five days in a 
week, and on Saturday walk ten miles to Boston to spend the day in 
the Athenaeum Library, and then walk back ten miles at night, and of 
how he often peered through the gate as he passed Harvard College 
and longed for the learning one might obtain there. Such a boy was 
the father to the man Nathaniel P. Banks became. 


TAMES LAWRENCE ORE Speaker of the House of Representatives in 
J the Thirty-fifth Congress. Born at Craytonville, Anderson County, 
South Carolina, May 12, 1822. Son of Christopher and Martha (Mc- 
Cann) Orr. Educated at University of Virginia. Died in St. Peters- 
burg (now Petrograd) , Russia, May 5, 1873. 
Mr. Orr was one of that class of men in the South who favored 


Thirty-fourth Congress 

JAMES L. ORR, South Carolina 
Thirty-fifth Congress 

Thirty-sixth Congress 

GALUSHA A. GROW, Pennsylvania 
Thirty-seventh Congress 


slavery, loved the Union, yet joined the Confederacy. He was of Irish 
descent, his forebears coming to this country early in the eighteenth 
century. Having cast in their lot with the colonies when the colonies 
revolted and attempted to set up a government for themselves, the 
Irish-born Orrs speedily found their way into the troops which fol- 
lowed Washington. They originally settled in Pennsylvania, but, as 
was often the case among the earlier colonists, the family divided, one 
part going to South Carolina, where they became active patriots. 

The subject of this sketch pursued a course of classical studies, and 
when fitted entered the University of Virginia, taking rank among the 
most studious of his class. He desired a solid, rather than a showy, 
education, and to that end gave much of his time to the close study 
of mathematics and political economy. When it came time to settle 
on the occupation he was to follow, his choice fell on law, and to that 
science he gave the same earnest efforts he had given to his studies 
in the university. 

He had just reached adult age when he was admitted to the bar, and 
began practice at Anderson, in his native State. It was at a time of 
great political excitement throughout the country over the projected 
annexation of Texas, and the consequent extension of slave territory. 
Before the agitation over the Texas annexation had come to vex the 
people, the opposition to slavery and to the further extension of slave 
territory, a distinct opposition to the institution had developed in the 
North. Abolition societies were formed in several of the Northern 
States, and what became historically known as "the underground rail- 
road" was in active operation. The proposed annexation of Texas 
added fuel to the flames then arising, and as opposition became more 
pronounced, the friends of the institution became more active and 
more aggressive. 

The tariff was still a source of much trouble and complaint in some 
of the States, especially in South Carolina. There nullification was a 
common topic of conversation, and an ever-present political threat. 
It had not been stamped out, as President Jackson had hoped. It was 
still in the minds of the people, and it had many earnest and zealous 

In 1844 Mr. Orr was elected to the State Legislature. He was a 
Democrat in political thought, an admirer of Calhoun, but opposed to 
the peculiar views of that great statesman as to the rights of the 
States. One' of his first speeches as a member of the Legislature was a 
vehement denunciation of nullification. He was a lover of the Union, 
believing that all the hopes of the people depended on the Union. He 
hated the thought of a dismemberment of the ties which bound the 
States together, and fearlessly expressed his views, though to do so at 
that juncture was to endanger his future political aspirations. 

He served two years in the Legislature, proving to be a clear-headed, 


courageous statesman, and an orator of more than usual powers. He 

advocated a reform in the public school system; a reform that would 

broaden the way to an education for the children of the State. On 

that Question he made a number of speeches before his colleagues, 

which attracted the attention of the people at large. He was for a 

time, ttfe owner and editor of a newspaper in Anderson, and through 

its columns he ardently urged the reforms he sought to bring about 

At that time the public school system of South Carolina was anything 

but perfect. In fact the wealthier class of the citizens either opposed 

the system, or were lukewarm toward it. They could provide private 

instruction for their sons and daughters until they were fitted to 

enter some institution of higher education, and then sent them to such 

institution. The public schools found their rolls of students among the 

poorer classes, and the wealthy had but little use for the poor, at that 


Mr Orr saw all this. Filled with youthful enthusiasm for bettering 
the citizenry of the State, he regarded the public schools as a great and 
powerful medium for future good, and he desired to place the schools 
of South Carolina on a par with the best in the country. He did ac- 
complish much, but was unable to bring the Legislature up to the high 
standard he had hoped to reach. His fearlessness in these ^ efforts to 
bring about a reform made him popular with the people of his district, 
and in 1848 he was elected to Congress, and was regularly reelected 
until 1858, when he voluntarily declined to again be a candidate. 

The annexation of Texas had been effected; the agitation regarding 
slavery was still further inflamed. The Wilmot Proviso added fuel to 
the flames. This Proviso was to limit the area of slavery in the terri- 
tory to be obtained from Mexico. Several efforts were made to com- 
promise the matter. Slave territory was to be limited, and as an 
offset to the South a new and more stringent law in regard to fugitive 
slaves was to be enacted. Against every suggestion of compromise Mr. 
Orr quickly and emphatically placed himself. He was willing the 
proposed new law for the recapture and return of escaping slaves 
should be passed, for he held that slaves were property, property 
protected by the Constitution, and, therefore, the owner had a right 
under the Constitution to follow his escaping slave, and repossess him- 
self of his property wherever found, and that it was the duty of the 
law officers of the Federal Government and also of those of the State 
governments to give all aid necessary. 

In his speeches he deplored the agitation of slavery, and believed it 
should be prohibited by law, because of its tendency to disturb the 
peace of the community, and eventually endanger the perpetuity of 
the Union. Hence he opposed what is known as the Compromise 
Measure of 1850, a measure admitting California into the Union under 
certain conditions. Even then mutterings of disunion were heard al- 


most daily in the halls of Congress. These Mr. Orr frowned upon. 
He desired the perpetuity of the Union, but it must be a perpetuity 
with slavery in such States as desired to have it as one of its domestic 

During a part of the time he served in the House he was chairman 
of the Committee on Indian Affairs. This caused him to make a thor- 
ough study of the condition of the original inhabitants of the country, 
and he sought to work out some ameliorations of the red men, and 
thus prevent for the future the wars which had been so disastrous to 
them and so destructive to the white pioneers in some sections. Treat- 
ies with the tribes had been made, and in many instances had been 
broken by the whites. It became an object with Mr. Orr to prevent a 
recurrence of such actions on the part of the white settlers. His 
maxim was justice to the red man, justice absolute. If a reservation 
were set off for the occupancy of the Indians, every invasion of it by 
the white man was to be punished. He was able to accomplish much in 
that direction, but not all he desired. He became known among the 
tribes as their friend and champion. 

While the Whig party was disintegrating a new party came into ex- 
istence. It was known in some sections as "The Native American 
Party," but its general designation was "The Know Nothing Party." 
To the present generation that peculiar party is only a tradition. It 
had its origin in the South. Its creed was opposition to all foreigners, 
and to all Roman Catholics. It taught that as a native born American 
boy was required to reach the age of twenty-one years before taking 
part in governmental affairs, even as to exercising the right of suf- 
frage, all foreigners should be required to have a residence in this 
country for a like term of twenty-one years before being admitted to 
the voting booth. The argument was that the arrival on these shores 
of one born and bred in an autocracy was his actual political birth, 
hence the required residence period. 

The party grew very strong in some cities, and riots were of fre- 
quent occurrence. It had proved strong enough to elect representa- 
tives in Congress, and in State Legislatures. In one or two instances 
it had elected a Governor of a State. The danger to the perpetuity of 
our institutions should such a party grow to be the ruling party of the 
country impressed itself on some of the leading politicians, and they 
began efforts to permanently defeat and overthrow the party. One of 
these was Governor Wise, of Virginia. With him was joined Mr. Orr. 
Those two men led the opposition until the obnoxious party went out 
of existence, to be revived in these latter days as the Ku Klux. 

Mr. Orr was elected Speaker of the Thirty-fifth Congress. It was 
the first Congress under President Buchanan. Slavery was the one 
absorbing issue. "Squatter Sovereignty," as promulgated by Mr. 
Douglas, was constantly before Congress in one shape or another. 


Kansas was the political battleground one side endeavoring to force 
slavery into the Constitution, the other endeavoring to keep it out. In 
both the House and Senate threats of disunion were heard daily, in 
fact almost hourly. Speaker Orr believed in the right of secession, but 
opposed it at that time as being inopportune, and without just cause. 
In the campaign of 1860 he was a supporter of Breckenridge, but de- 
plored the attitude of the people of the South toward a dissolution of 
the Union should Mr. Lincoln succeed in the election. 

South Carolina seceded, and then Mr. Orr submitted to what seemed 
to him to be the inevitable. He followed his State. He was anxious, how- 
ever, for peace, and hoped secession might be granted without a resort 
to war. He was one of the Commissioners sent by South Carolina to 
Washington to negotiate for the peaceable surrender to the State of the 
Government forts in Charleston harbor. In a conversation with the 
President he advanced his belief that if war was averted the seceding 
States would soon become again a part of the Union, 

The Commission accomplished nothing and war followed the seizure 
of the forts. During the war he stood by the State until the end came. 
When it came he accepted the result in good faith, urging his fellow 
citizens to follow his example, thus the more quickly to reach a full re- 
habilitation of the State as a member of the Union. He served in the 
Confederate Congress, but was not popular with Mr. Davis, as he op- 
posed many of the extreme measures of the administration. All this 
made him the logical candidate for Governor when the State was again 
given political power. As Governor he advocated giving the f reedmen 
limited suffrage. This drove from him many of those who had stood 
steadfastly to his fortunes, and he was assailed with the most bitter 
abuse the enemies of suffrage could heap upon him. 

Believing that an open adherence to the Republican party was the 
surest means of complete restoration of political affairs in the South, 
he united with that party. This only opened wider the vials of wrath 
of his former friends. President Grant appointed him Minister to 
Russia. His health was undermined by his labors against great oppo- 
sition for a full restoration of the Union, and he did not long stand the 
rigor of the Russian climate. He died in far-away St. Petersburg, far 
away from his native land. 

As Speaker of the House he endeavored to hold in check the angry 
passions which swayed both parties, but many times failed to keep 
peace on the floor. His sympathies were with the advocates of slavery, 
but his sympathies did not sway his judgment and he endeavored to 
hold the reins with a tight but impartial hand. 



\\ 7 ILLIAM PENNINGTON Speaker of the House in the Thirty-sixth 
VV Congress. Born in Newark, New Jersey, May 4, 1796. Son of 
Governor William Sandf ord and Phoebe (Wheeler) Pennington. Edu- 
cated at Princeton College. Married Miss Caroline Burnett. Died in 
Newark, New Jersey, February 16, 1862. 

The Pennington family was long prominent in the political and civic 
life of New Jersey. William Sandford Pennington was Governor and 
Chancellor. He served gallantly and well in the Revolutionary War. 
He was twice elected Governor of the State. His son, William, the 
subject of this sketch, followed closely in the footsteps of his distin- 
guished father, serving the State in numerous capacities as Judge, 
Chancellor, Governor. 

Leaving college, he began the study of law as a pupil of Theodore 
Frelinghuysen, one of the most distinguished lawyers of his time. 

One who knew him well thus wrote of him: "He was an honorable 
man, standing in the foremost rank of those who merit the appella- 
tion. Honorable was the title he wore in virtue of the official stations 
which he from time to time occupied; but men when they called him 
by that title never sneered as they sometimes do in other cases, think- 
ing what a satire it is upon the littleness of those who so often happen 
to acquire it. They gave it to him cordially. They felt it belonged 
to him by more than human right ; the fitting prefix to a stately name, 
and the appropriate designation of a noble character, thinking more 
of his manly worth than of his official station. . . . The fundamental 
qualities of his nature, those elements which formed the real stuff of 
man, and rendered him peculiarly what he was, and earned for him his 
distinction, were sound, practical common sense, cautious judgment, 
thorough sincerity, integrity of purpose, quick intuitive perceptions 
of and a strong regard for the right, all strengthened and regulated 
by a profound conviction of the truth and reality of religion, a convic- 
tion which obtained in him with singular force long before he pro- 
fessed a vital faith in Christianity. . . . These powers and virtues 
formed the underlying granite of the man. They were not acquired, 
but innate qualities ; habits, in the old sense of the term, which showed 
themselves spontaneously and gave him his peculiar type, and laid the 
foundation for future attainments and distinction/' 

Beginning the practice of his profession, he soon won success. He 
began his political life almost at once, becoming very active in party 
affairs, and was early acknowledged a leader. He became a Whig, 
following the leadership of Henry Clay. 

His first civic office was that of Clerk of the Circuit and District 
Courts of Newark. In 1828 he was sent to the State Assembly, and 
in 1837 he was elected Governor. At that time the Governor was 


elected by the Legislature. He was reelected annually until 1843, 
when the Democrats obtained a majority in the Legislature. 

For six years he was Chancellor and Judge of the Prerogative Court, 
his decisions giving general satisfaction. He took a common-sense 
view of the cases brought before him, and gave his decisions without 
regard to technicalities. It has been said that only one of his decisions 
was overruled by the Court of Appeals. One who practiced before his 
court said that "probably no man that ever acted as the presiding 
officer of the old court of errors exercised such a controlling influence 
over its decisions as he did. The purity of his motives was never ques- 
tioned. His opinions are models of condensed and lucid exposition." 

As Governor, he was punctual in attendance to his duties, courteous 
in his treatment of those having business with him, and usually wise 
and prudent in the administration of the affairs of the State. There 
was one instance, however, which awakened at the time much criti- 
cism, although he could not readily be charged with wrongdoing. 

In the congressional election of 1838 the New Jersey members of 
the House were elected by the State at large, and not by districts. Six 
members were to be elected on a general ticket. In two of the counties 
the clerks had rejected the returns from some of the townships for 
real or alleged deficiencies in the form of the certificates, or in the time 
of delivering them. 

By the omission of those votes five of the Whig candidates received 
majorities they would not have been entitled to had all the votes been 
counted. One of the six was undoubtedly elected, and no question was 
raised as to him. Under the election law as it was at that time in New 
Jersey it was the duty of the Governor and his privy council to cast 
up the votes and determine who had been elected. When that was 
done his duty required hiln to issue a commission under the great seal 
of the State. Acting under this law. Governor Pennington gave com- 
missions to all six of the Whig candidates, who, according to the cer- 
tifications before him, had the greatest number of votes. It seems 
there was no law authorizing him to take any measures to correct the 
returns, and so he had to act on them as they came to him. 

Naturally, this furnished one of the most exciting scenes ever wit- 
nessed in the National House of Representatives. Five Democratic 
candidates contested t}ie election of the five Whigs to whom the certifi- 
cates had been issued. When the House met, if the five contested 
Whigs were permitted to vote that party would be able to elect the 
Speaker and otherwise organize the House. If not permitted to vote, 
the Democrats would have the winning hand. The Clerk of the House 
refused to call the names of the Whigs, notwithstanding they held the 
certificates, and thus, day after day, the House was unable to organize. 
This condition finally brought John Quincy Adams to the front, who 
boldly put a motion he made without regarding the Clerk, who was, 


until the House was organized, its presiding officer. The account of 
this action is given more in detail in the sketch of R. M. T. Hunter, 
who was finally elected Speaker. The five contesting Democratic can- 
didates were finally given the seats by the House* 

As to his ability as a party leader, an early writer said: "The great 
popularity and wonderful good sense of Governor Pennington made 
him, as has been remarked, the best leader of the Whig party they 
ever had in the State." Notwithstanding his excellent methods in 
party management, he at last angered some members of the party, 
and in 1843, when the party, under his leadership, nominated a candi- 
date for Congress, the disgruntled members of the party put forward 
an independent candidate. The Democrats accepted the independent, 
and thus defeated the regular nominee. It is said that the majority 
of those who bolted the ticket on this occasion finally became Demo- 
crats in full standing. 

The Whig party went down to final defeat in the election of 1852, 
and a new party came into existence, whose leading principle was the 
resistance to the further extension of slavery. TBe whole country was 
aflame with excitement over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
and the attempt to force slavery on the people of Kansas. By this 
new party Mr. Pennington was nominated and elected in 1858 a mem- 
ber of the National House of Representatives. 

The Thirty-sixth Congress was the closing one of Buchanan's ad- 
ministration, and the air was full of threats of disunion should the 
new party ever obtain power in the country. It turned out that, 
although this was his first appearance as a member of the House, he 
was destined to spring into national prominence. It was not expected 
by him, for he had no thought of such prominence. It came all unex- 
pected through a combination of circumstances. 

When the House met in December, 1859, a long and angry contest 
over the election of a Speaker followed. The opposition to the admin- 
istration had a decided majority in the House, but it was divided be- 
tween the Republicans, the Anti-Lecompton Democrats, and a number 
of the Native American party. 

The Anti-Lecompton Democrats opposed the administration only as 
to its attitude on the slavery question. The Native Americans were 
divided, those from the South favoring slavery and those from the 
North opposing that institution. The Republicans nominated John 
Sherman, of Ohio, as their candidate for Speaker, and the Democrats 
put forward Mr. Bocock, of Virginia. The feeling throughout the 
country and in Congress was intensified by the attempt of John Brown 
to bring about a revolt among the slaves. 

On the first ballot Mr. Bocock received the full vote of the adminis- 
tration Democrats, while the Republican vote was divided between 
Mr. Sherman, the party candidate, and Galusha A. Grow, of Pennsyl- 


vania, a Republican of a milder sort. A few months before Congress 
met a man by the name of Helper published a book violently assailing 
slavery, especially from an economic point of view. The book greatly 
angered the South, and It had much to do with the election of a 
Speaker in the House. 

On the second day of the session a member from Missouri offered 
the following resolution : 

WHEREAS, Certain members of this House, now in nomination for Speaker, did 
endorse and recommend the book hereinafter mentioned, 

Resolved, That the doctrines and sentiments of a certain book, called "The Im- 
pending Crisis of the South How to Meet It," purporting to have been written 
by one Hilton R. Helper, are insurrectionary and hostile to the domestic peace and 
tranquiiity of the country, and that no member of this House who has endorsed 
and recommended it is fit to be Speaker of this House. 

This resolution was aimed especially at Mr. Sherman. When pre- 
sented it brought forth an angry debate,- the Clerk, as presiding officer, 
ruling it was debatable. A flood of talk became a deluge, and raged for 
eight weeks. The talk ranged over the whole scale of issues the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the fugitive slave law, the right of 
secession, the slave trade. President Buchanan and his administration 
were assailed by the Republicans and the Anti-Lecompton Democrats. 
Secession, revolution were openly advocated. One of the great speeches 
of the debate was that made by Representative Hickman, of Pennsyl- 
vania. He still claimed to be a member of the Democratic party, and 
in response to some implied threats of a dissolution of the Union under 
certain circumstances, he said: 

I know that many men have been alarmed in times past at the cries of dissolu- 
tion, but I have never yet seen a Northern man who expressed any alarm at the 
results of a dissolution of the Union. I will state what my conviction is on the 
subject. I do not know, however, that I thoroughly understand what is meant by 
a dissolution of the Union. If it means a dividing line of sentiment between the 
North and the South and virtual non-intercourse, we have reached that dissolution 
already, for Northern men cannot now travel in the South, and, as I understand 
it, any postmaster in any village of the South, where the receipts of the office 
would not amount to five dollars, can, if a letter bearing my frank goes into his 
hands, open it, examine it, and burn it, on the pretext that it is incendiary. Sir, 
we have reached the dividing line between the North and South. But if this dis- 
solution means that there is to be a division of territory, by Mason and Dixon's 
line, or by any other line, I say: "No! that will never be. I express my opinion, 
and that opinion may go before the country, whether false or true, when I say: 
No! the North will never tolerate a division of the territory." 

The weary balloting and talking went on, day after day, for eight 
long and tiresome weeks without perfecting an organization of the 
House. The Republicans continued to cling to Sherman as their can- 
didate, while the Democrats shifted from one to another. At last they 
began voting for Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, in hopes they could 
draw to him the support of the Native Americans, and in that they 


nearly succeeded. On one ballot he needed but one vote to make a suc- 
cess, and that vote was about to be cast for him, when a friend of 
Mr. Pennington changed his vote. He and other friends of Mr. Pen- 
nington then notified the Republicans that the name of Mr. Sherman 
must be withdrawn or they would let the Democrats elect Smith. 

Henry Winter Davis, a Native American from Maryland, and who 
was known in the House as the "Prince Rupert of Debate," solved the 
question, casting his vote for Mr. Pennington, and thus making him 
Speaker. This was a strong endorsement of Governor Pennington, 
as he had never been a member of the House. All knew it was to be 
a stormy session, and one that would require all the firmness and tact 
which could be brought into play to maintain anything like order. 
Under the exacting conditions Speaker Pennington won the good will 
and high respect of all the members. It was universally conceded that 
for fairness and impartiality, wise conciliatory tact, he was equal to 
any who had filled that chair before him. 

His character is thus summed up by one who knew him well : 

Few shrunk more sensitively from the infliction of pain, and few were capable 
of being- more powerfully aroused by the sight or sense of wrong. And if at any 
time the stronger impulse of feeling which few suspected to be lying beneath that 
courteous, self-possessed demeanor broke out, as they sometimes did, into the 
utterance of unkind words toward any, no man was more quick to repair the 
injury; and the very gentleness of the manner in which the apology would be 
rendered was sure to make it the occasion of drawing to him a deeper respect 
and a warmer friendship. In fact, he was a person of remarkable sentiment, and 
none could be an inmate of his family without being struck with the graceful ways 
in which this sentiment of his, as a husband, a father, a brother, and friend was 
continually showing itself. It made "his home a home for the heart; there he 
aimed to rule by love, and love alone. Severity was painful to him, and great 
must be the fault that would bring him to manifest it. 

Mr. Pennington's death was sudden and unexpected. It was brought 
about by a large dose of morphine administered through the mistake 
of an apothecary. He was sixty-six years old, but was in full strength 
mentally, and there were reasons why he might look forward to years 
of usefulness. 


LUSHA AARON GROW Speaker of the House of Representatives 
in the Thirty-seventh Congress. Born in Ashford, Connecticut, 
August 31, 1823. Son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Robbins) Grow. Edu- 
cated at Amherst College. Died in Glenwood, Pennsylvania, March 31, 

Galusha Aaron Grow, or Aaron Galusha Grow, as he was christened, 
had a most unique experience in Congressional life. He was elected 
as a Democrat to the Thirty-second, Thirty-third and Thirty-fourth 


Congresses, and as a Republican to the Thirty-fifth, Thirty-sixth and 
Thirty-seventh Congresses. He was Speaker in the Thirty-seventh 
Congress. He was defeated for re-election to the House for the Thirty- 
eighth Congress, it being the only case on record where a Representa- 
tive was defeated for reelection to the House while he was Speaker. 
After an absence of thirty-one years he was again sent to Congress for 
three terms, this being the only instance of a return after so long an 

The transition of his name from Aaron Galusha to Galusha Aaron 
was an amusing incident. At the time of his christening an aunt, liv- 
ing in Vermont, was a visitor to the Grow home. Her husband's name 
was Aaron, and she asked to have the boy named for him. She was 
also a warm friend of Governor Galusha, of Vermont, and requested 
to add his name. Consent was given and the child christened Aaron 
Galusha. The Grows had a neighbor whose name was Aaron and 
they began to fear it might be said that their boy had been named for 
him. So a family council was held, and decided to call him "Galusha" 
Grow. That did well enough until the boy grew old enough to write 
his name. At first it was "A. Galusha Grow, 2." But that did not 
suit. A was an indefinite article so the boy decided on "Galusha A." 

His father died when Galusha was but four years old, leaving his 
family in impoverished circumstances. The six children were taken 
by members of the family, Galusha going to his maternal grandfather 
with two of his brothers. The grandfather was a farmer and the boys 
were put to work, Galusha being the chore boy, milking the cows and 
caring for the horses. 

He attended school during the winter months, proving an earnest 
student. In 1833 the mother decided to go West. Her father at once 
made over to her the share of his property he had intended to leave to 
her in his will. In the Spring of 1834, together with some friends who 
were also migrating, the family moved to Pennsylvania. A farm of 
some four hundred acres was purchased near the little hamlet of Glen- 
wood. Among the stories of his boyhood days on thje farm was one to 
the effect that the wild pigeons were so numerous that they destroyed 
about all the grain. To keep them away Galusha was assigned the 
duty. He was perched on the ridge pole of the barn, and was to sing, 
give cat-calls, and pound on the roof. He held that post from the time 
the corn was planted until it was harvested. 

A store was started by his brother Frederick, and Galusha became 
his clerk. A part of the business was the purchasing and shipping of 
lumber, the lumber being sent to market in the form of rafts. On one 
such trip young Galusha went as super-cargo, and before returning 
home he visited Mount Vernon and Washington. 

^ When he was about eleven years of age his mother determined to 
give him an education, and he was sent to the Academy, and later to 


Amherst College. In 1840 he finally entered Amherst as a freshman. 
He was but seventeen years of age, but began to display an interest in 
political matters. Slavery was also dividing the people, and he took 
his place in the ranks of those who opposed slavery, but not as an 
abolitionist. He reached manhood's age during the exciting political 
campaign of 1844, when the opposing candidates for President were 
Henry Clay and James K. Polk. Grow became a Democrat supporting 

It was the desire of his mother that he become a lawyer, so after 
leaving college he made arrangements to begin the study of that 
science. In the spring of 1847 he was admitted to the bar and formed 
a partnership with David Wilmot, the author of the famous "Wilmot 
Proviso." Wilmot at the time was a member of Congress. It was dur- 
ing the war with Mexico, and a proposition was made in Congress to 
appropriate a large sum to purchase a large territory from Mexico, and 
thus end the war. The Wilmot Proviso was an amendment he offered 
to the bill providing that "in any territory acquired from Mexico 
neither slavery or involuntary servitude shall ever exist otherwise than 
as a punishment for crime." For many years that provisio was a 
thorn in the way of ambitious men. In some sections to have voted for 
it, or to have favored it, was regarded as a political crime. In other 
sections to have opposed it was a criminal act politically. It finally 
defeated its author for a seat in the House. 

The partners divided in political allegiance in 1848, Grow supporting 
Cass, the regular nominees of the Democrats, while Wilmot joined the 
Free Soil party, which was running Van Buren. It brought about a 
split in the party in the Congressional district. Mr. Wilmot was 
nominated for Congress by the Free-soilers, He was a shrewd politi- 
cian and a few days before the election he became convinced that he 
could not be elected, owing to the split in the party over the slavery 
question. Wilmot had been nominated by the Free-soilers, and a man 
by the name of Lowry was the nominee of the pro-slavery Democrats. 
They both agreed that it would not do to let a Whig win the race, and 
to prevent that a new candidate would have to be named who could 
harmonize the Democratic party. The choice fell on Mr. Grow. 

On the slavery question Mr. Grow's attitude was that of deploring 
agitation of the subject, rather than favoring either side of the con- 
troversy. His nomination was followed by his election, and when he 
entered the House he was its youngest member. As a student in col- 
lege Mr. Grow had taken much interest in the question of the disposal 
of the public lands. The Government owned many millions of acres of 
tillable land, and one of the problems before each Congress was the 
best way to utilize this great asset. During the administration of 
President Jackson there had been a veritable riot of speculating in gov- 
ernment lands, fostered by the Secretary of the Treasury. The Gov- 


eminent had withdrawn its deposits from the Bank of the United 
States and distributed the money among a number of State Banks. 
The Secretary of the Treasury conceived it would be a good way to 
keep the treasury full by selling off the government lands. In order 
to do this he urged the favored banks to loan liberally to purchasers ot 

such lands. , , , x 

The sales increased amazingly, the land being sold on time payments 

one-third cash, and the remainder in annual installments. The 

banks loaned the money for the first payments, the currency being 
their own notes. As the notes had nothing behind them, they soon fell 
far below the face value. This alarmed the administration and an 
order was issued to collectors to receive nothing but gold for the de- 
ferred payments on the land. Gold could not be had, the speculators 
went bankrupt, and millions of acres were forfeited to the Government. 
Grow, the college student, had thought upon all this. He believed that 
the prosperity of the country largely depended upon agriculture, and 
he soon reached the conclusion that the prosperity of the country 
would be enhanced if the Government would confine the sale of its 
lands to actual settlers, and that to induce them to settle and cultivate 
the land, proper and generous inducements should be held out by the 

He entered Congress with this thought fixed in his mind, and he 
began working out the idea. He did not dream of the long and hard 
fight that was before him. 

His proposition was to give free homesteads to every one who would 
live on and cultivate the land for a fixed term of years. The lands 
were to be practically withdrawn from the market, except for home- 
stead entry. This would in the future keep out the speculators. It 
would be an inducement to industrious persons to make entry and to 
cultivate the land. This, in turn, would be a benefit to all the people. 
It was not long until "Lands for the Landless" became a political 

The scheme met its most strenuous opposition among the members 
from the Southern States. The lands, they claimed, were the prop- 
erty of all the people, and if the homestead idea should prevail, immi- 
grants would reap the most of the benefit, and as the lands were 
mostly in the western section of the country, that section would be 
enriched at the expense of the people of the other sections. It is need- 
less to here follow all the long struggle Mr. Grow made before victory 
fijially perched upon his banners. It is enough to say that he renewed 
the fight at every session while he remained in Congress, and when he 
returned to the House after an absence of more than thirty years he 
began the fight again, and continued until he won. 

He did not take a very active part in the proceedings of the House 
for the first session or two, contenting himself with learning the meth- 


ods, thus fitting himself for the important part he was to play in 
coming sessions. He made few speeches, and none of them of great 
length. Nearly all of them were on the one subject which occupied his 
mind, furnishing homesteads to industrious tillers of the soil. Among 
his first speeches on this subject he gave this strong indication of the 
metal that was in him : "As the means of sustaining life/' he said, 
"are derived almost entirely from the soil, every person has a right to 
so much of the earth's surface as is necessary to his support. To 
whatever unoccupied portion of it, therefore, he shall apply his labor 
for that purpose, from that time forth it should become appropriated 
to his exclusive use ; and whatever improvements he may make by his 
industry, it should become his property and subject to his disposal, for 
the only true foundation for any right to property is man's labor." 

While not given to much speaking, Mr. Grow quickly grew into the 
confidence and respect of his colleagues. They soon recognized his 
ability and his earnestness. Slavery was an agitating subject and was 
almost continually before Congress in some form. The controversies 
in the House often resulted in riotous scenes when personal conflicts 
occurred. Those scenes disgusted Mr. Grow. He was not a broiler 
and avoided, as a rule, the use of language that would arouse angry 
feelings. He was reelected to Congress by an increased majority. It 
was the election that gave the Presidency to Franklin Pierce on a plat- 
form which pledged the Democratic party "to resist all attempts at 
renewing, in Congress or out of it, the agitation on the slavery ques- 
tion, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made/' It was 
a great pledge, yet the party that made the pledge proceeded at once to 
break it, by attempting to repeal the Missouri Compromise. 

Grow had entered Congress rather as a friend than an opponent of 
slavery. He was a compromise candidate and acceptable because he 
was not so pronounced against slavery as Wilmot, his predecessor. He 
was rapidly changing his attitude, and he had not completed his third 
term before he was much more radical as an anti-slavery man than his 
predecessor had ever been. He vehemently opposed the attempt to 
break down the compromise on which Missouri had been admitted as a 
State in the Union, and the boundaries of slave territory fixed. In all 
our Congressional history the riotous scenes in the House during the 
Thirty-second and Thirty-third Congresses were never equaled. Per- 
sonal encounters were of almost daily occurrence, and challenges to 
the "field of honor" were frequent. 

Mr. Grow had become a Eepublican, and as a Republican had been 
returned to his seat in the House. The Thirty-fourth Congress was 
almost as riotous as had been the two preceding Congresses. The fight 
was on to make Kansas free territory. President Buchanan in his 
message seemingly defended those who were striving to carry Kansas 
into line with the South. This gave an occasion for Mr. Grow to enter 


the ranks of the defenders of freedom in that section. The President 
had said something about the people surrendering themselves to the 
supposed interests of the few Africans in the United States. To this 
Mr. Grow said: 

The men of the North, have not surrendered themselves to the "supposed inter- 
ests of the relatively few Africans in the United States." The rights of the 
citizens of Kansas are the rights of twenty-five millions of Americans, and the 
wrongs of one should be adopted as the wrongs of the other. If the rights of one 
man in this country can be trampled by legislative enactment, the rights of all 
may be. When men are disfranchised by law and the law rests upon the Govern- 
ment for validity and sanction, it comes home to every person, no matter in what 
part of the Republic he lives; and he who would sit quietly down and permit 
wrong and injustice to be don to a citizen of the country when he can prevent 
it is guilty of a dereliction of duty. The supervision of all their legislation being 
under control of Congress, let it remove from the people these odious enactments 
which the President has declared must be enforced, and secure them the free and 
undisturbed exercise of their civil rights and privileges. 

By this time Mr. Grow had become one of the leaders of the Repub- 
licans in the House, and wielded much influence in their councils. He 
was an ardent supporter of the men in Kansas who were endeavoring 
to keep slavery out, and presented a bill to the House to repeal all the 
existing laws in Kansas. This soon brought him into angry contro- 
versies with some of the Southern members, notably with Repre- 
sentative Keitt, of South Carolina. This at last resulted in a pitched 
battle on the floor of the House, which had some laughable features. 
The story is worth telling. Grow was the "Whip" of the Republicans, 
and it was a part of his duties to watch the movements of the opposite 
side. One day he happened to be on the Democratic side of the cham- 
ber, when some request was made which brought from him an objec- 
tion. This angered Keitt who called out: 

"If you want to object, go back to your side of the House, you black 
Republican puppy/' 

Mr. Grow irritatingly and defiantly replied, "I will object when and 
where I please/' Keitt approached him in a threatening manner, de- 
manding what he meant by his answer. He was assured by Grow that 
the hall belonged to the American people and that he would "stay in it 
where I please and no slave-driver shall crack his whip over my head/' 
At this^Keitt aimed a blow at Grow, but he had met a man of mettle, 
who parried the blow and in return gave the fiery South Carolinian 
one under the ear that sent him to the floor. By this time the House 
was in an uproar, the Democrats rushing to the aid of Keitt, and the 
Republicans to the defense of Grow. It was then the uproar was 
turned into a laughing bee by the remark of a visitor in the gallery. 
Among the Democrats who were "spoiling" to get into the fight was 
Barksdale, of Mississippi. In a state of nature Barksdale was as bald 
as a billiard ball, but few of his colleagues knew it, for he wore a hand- 


some wig. As he rushed toward Grow, a Eepublican member caught 
at him, but only caught his flowing locks, when, lo, the flowing locks 
came off, and the Republican flourished them in amusement. A gallery 
visitor saw it, and cried out in stentorian tones, "Scalped him, by 
thunder." This shout attracted the attention of the warring men on 
the floor, and in a moment both sides were laughing at the predicament 
of Mr. Barksdale. On another occasion Mr. Grow had a controversy 
with Representative Branch, of North Carolina. Branch sent him a 
challenge to a duel. Grow promptly replied that he did not recognize 
dueling otherwise than at variance with the Christian religion, and 
therefore would not accept any challenge, but that he was not only 
able, but willing to defend himself if an attack should be made upon 
him. It resulted in nothing serious. 

In 1851 Mr. Grow paid a visit to Europe, studying conditions in all 
the countries of the continent and in England. In writing of this visit 
he said : 

The more an American sees of Europe, unless wedded to antiquity or dazzled 
by the glitter and pomp of royalty, the more strongly attached does he become to 
the institutions of his own country. There was no spot that I saw after leaving 
New York that any consideration would induce me to make my permanent home. 

The institutions and the character of the American people were at that time 
just beginning to be understood in Europe. Our steamers were making the fast- 
est trips across the ocean. Our yachts were beating the fastest of the English 
clubs out of sight in a few hours' sail. Our agricultural and labor-saving ma- 
chines were taking the first premiums in world exhibitions, and our commerce was 
not much less than that of England and rapidly increasing. Reflecting men in- 
quired, "How has all this been accomplished in a half century?" and "What will 
the Americans be, at the rate they are going, at the end of another fifty years?" 

I found that national pride was markedly wounded that Commodore Perry 
should have succeeded in accomplishing two years before what they had failed in 
centuries to accomplish. 

The firing on Fort Sumter in April, 1861, caused President Lincoln 
to call Congress to meet in special session in July. At that special 
session Mr. Grow was elected Speaker. It was an important session ; 
war was at hand, an army and a navy had to be provided. All this 
with an empty treasury. In this sketch it is not necessary to recount 
what was done by Congress at that special session, or, indeed, at the 
two regular sessions which followed. All that has passed into history. 

As Speaker Mr. Grow did fairly well. He could not rank with some 
Speakers who had gone before, such as Clay, Macon, Stevenson and 
Banks, nor with some who came after him, such as Colfax, Randall, 
Carlisle, Cannon, and Champ Clark, but his administration was, on 
the whole, creditable. He did take advantage of the situation to crowd 
through his long-deferred homestead project. 

By a change in the formation of his district Mr. Grow was defeated 
for reelection to the House. He returned to his home in Glenwood 
and resumed his activities in private business. At all times he took an 


active part in politics, and in aiding the administration in carrying on 
the war. He had made some enemies among his own party, and they 
managed to keep him out of office. 

In 1867 he went to Texas to assume the presidency of the Houston 
and Great Northern Railway Company, in which he was largely in- 
terested. Under his management, which continued four years, the 
road was extended several hundred miles. His life in Texas did not 
suit him. He did not take part in politics, for it was hardly safe, at 
that time, for a man of his Republican antecedents to become politi- 
cally active in the Lone Star State. Returning to Pennsylvania his 
enemies in his own party managed to keep him out of office for several 
years. He was growing old in years. In 1893 a vacancy in the Penn- 
sylvania delegation in the House occurred, through the death of Mr. 
William Lilly, Representative at large. Mr. Grow was nominated to 
fill the vacancy and was elected by a majority of 181,000 votes. It was 
thirty-one years after he had retired from the House during the Civil 
War, There were but one or two members then who had been members 
when he was Speaker. One of those old-timers was the venerable Wil- 
liam S. Holman, of Indiana, who acted as escort to Mr. Grow when he 
appeared to take the oath. 

During the next three terms he was renominated without opposition, 
carrying the election each time by an increased majority. In 1903 he 
finally retired from serving the public. He had reached the venerable 
age of four-score years ; he had lived those years without a blemish on 
his name. He had served his country, and served it well. On his re- 
turn to his home in Glenwood the people gave him a grand welcome. 
All business was suspended for a time and the people all went to the 
station to meet and welcome the man they loved and revered. 

Before he died Mr. Grow became straitened in his circumstances. 
Andrew Carnegie, learning of this, placed him on his private pension 
list with a generous allowance In a letter to a mutual friend Mr. Car- 
negie thus spoke of the services of Mr. Grow: "He has done a great 
work for mankind, a work which will bless the ages, and he deserves to 
spend his remaining days in peace and comfort. By his statesmanship 
and intelligent efforts he saved our vast territory beyond the Missis- 
sippi River for the landless of our people and thus millions of free 
homes were made possible to the tillers of the soil This work alone 
entitles him to the gratitude and homage of all Americans, and it is a 
distinct pleasure to feel that I have been able to befriend him in any 
way. It is vouchsafed to only a few men to do great things to bless 
mankind and Mr. Grow was one of the favored group." 


Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth and 

Fortieth Congresses 

Forty-fourth Congress 

SAMUEL S. Cox, New York 
Forty-fourth Congress 

SAMUEL J. RANDALL, Pennsylvania 

Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth 




SCHUYLEE COLPAX Speaker of the House in the Thirty-eighth, Thir- 
ty-ninth, and Fortieth Congresses. Born in the City of New York, 
March 23, 1823. Son of Schuyler and Hannah (Stryker) Colfax. 
Educated in the common schools. Married, October 10, 1844, Miss 
Evelyn E. Clark ; November 18, 1867, Miss Ellen Wade. Died in Man- 
kato, Minnesota, January 13, 1885. 

Schuyler Colfax came from a distinguished ancestry. One of his 
grandfathers was an officer of high rank in the Revolutionary army, 
and one of his grandmothers was a member of the Schuyler family so 
noted in the history of New York. His father, who was engaged in 
the banking business, died four months before the birth of his dis- 
tinguished son. 

His mother, thus early left a widow, was a woman of strong mind, 
and early instilled in the mind of her son ambitions to climb through 
industry and correct living to a position of honor and influence. She 
was left by her husband in straitened circumstances, and her means 
were so limited that she was not able to give her son the education she 
desired for him, and for which he longed, even in his boyhood days. 
She did the best she could, sending him to the public schools as soon 
as he was old enough to be admitted. She early recognized the bright- 
ness of her son, and fostered in him a desire to take advantage of 
every opportunity for improvement. In school he was industrious and 
tractable, displaying the qualities which afterward made him famous 
in public life. He possessed a genial nature, never harbored ill feeling, 
or spoke unkindly to or of anyone. 

His mother's means were so limited that he was compelled to leave 
school when he was but ten years old, and aid in a small way his 
mother's struggles for a living. He entered a store as a clerk, serving 
in that capacity with industry and intelligence. He remained thus 
employed for three years. His mother married again and removed 
with her husband to St. Joseph County, Indiana, taking young Schuyler 
with her. The lad found a kind friend and helper in his stepfather. 
He quickly found a situation as a clerk in a store, giving his leisure 
time to hard study. 

At the age of seventeen he was fortunate enough to receive an ap- 
pointment as Deputy Auditor of the county and removed to South 
Bend, which was ever afterward his home. Young as he was, he 
adopted a serious and systematic course of reading and study. This 
he continued at all his leisure hours. His position in the auditor's 
office brought him into contact with the politicians of the county, and 
he took great interest in studying the political issues of the day. 

Among his other labors he studied law with absorbing interest, but 
never practiced, for before being ready for admission to the bar he 


found an employment which better suited him, and one better suited 
to his talents that of newspaper writing. His first object in all his 
reading and study was to master the English language, and this he 
did, as was later shown when he became a public speaker and an edi- 
torial writer. 

In 1845, when he was twenty-two years of age, he established a 
paper at South Bend, which he called the "St. Joseph Valley Register/' 
It was a hard struggle for a few years to get the paper financially a 
winner, but from the start it began wielding an influence on the public 
sentiment in that section of the State. The editorials were virile, 
dealing with the political issues in a straightforward, candid way, and 
won the confidence of the people. 

While thus engaged with his paper, Mr. Colfax made it a point to 
attend the sessions of the State Legislature, which held annual ses- 
sions. While so attending he added to his limited income by reporting 
the proceedings of the Legislature for the "Indianapolis Journal," He 
kept up his connection with his own paper, the "Register," writing 
the editorials in Indianapolis and sending them by mail to South Bend. 
At Indianapolis he extended his acquaintance with the leading men of 
the State, and at the same time widened his influence with the people 
of his own county. 

At that time the country was politically divided into two parties, 
Whig and Democratic. Mr. Colfax was a Whig of the Henry Clay 
school, and was an earnest supporter and advocate of what Mr. Clay 
called "The American System/' a policy of aiding by protective cus- 
toms duties American industries. In 1848 he was sent by the Whigs 
of his district a delegate to the national convention of the party. He 
was chosen Secretary of the convention. He was an earnest supporter 
of the movement to make Mr. Clay the party nominee, and his disap- 
pointment was very keen when the convention chose General Taylor 
as its standard-bearer. Notwithstanding his keen disappointment, he 
sturdily and effectively worked during the campaign for the success 
of General Taylor. 

About that time a demand sprang up in Indiana for the formulation 
of a new constitution. A convention was called for that purpose and 
the delegates to the convention were chosen on party lines. St. Joseph 
County was normally strongly Democratic, but such was the popu- 
larity of Mr. Colfax with the people that he was elected a delegate. 

He took an active part in the work of the convention, displaying 
unexpected powers as a debater. Thus year by year he widened his 
acquaintance and strengthened his position with the people. In 1851 
he was chosen by his party as its candidate for the National House of 
Representatives. The district was strongly Democratic, and he had 
for his opponent Graham N. Pitch, an able and popular man. Mr. 
Colfax made a vigorous campaign, and such was his strength with the 


people that Mr. Fitch won by a margin of less than two hundred and 
fifty votes. 

He was again nominated in 1854, and that time was successful by 
a decided majority of the votes. This was the opening of his public 
service in the nation, and so strong did he prove himself that he was 
relected for six successive terms, making a total service in the House 
of fourteen years. He was then advanced to the Vice-Presidency of the 
nation. His last three races for the House were made against David 
Turpie, who some years later became a distinguished member of the 
United States Senate. Mr. Coif ax increased his majority at each 

By this time slavery had become one of the great issues before the 
country. A fugitive slave law enacted by Congress had aroused re- 
sentment in all parts of the North ; in addition, there was a struggle 
over the organization of the Territory of Kansas. The Missouri Com- 
promise forbade slavery in that section, and its repeal was sought. All 
these added to the excitement throughout the North. The Thirty- 
fourth Congress was politically divided into three parties, the Ameri- 
cans, or Know Nothings, as they were called, holding the balance of 
power. A number of the Democratic members were opposed to the 
administration's attitude in regard to Kansas. The active supporters 
of the administration were in a decided minority, but their opponents 
were inharmonious and would not, or could not, agree among them- 

The first session of the Thirty-fourth Congress met on the 3rd of 
December, 1855. The first duty to be discharged was the selection of 
a Speaker. The struggle over making this selection continued until 
the 2nd of February, 1856. William A. Eichardson, of Illinois, was 
the candidate of the administration Democrats ; N. P. Banks, of Mas- 
sachusetts, was the Anti-Nebraska candidate. Several other members 
were voted for in the beginning of the contest. On the first ballot 
Mr. Richardson received 74 votes and Mr. Banks only 21. Great ex- 
citement existed not only in the House of Representatives, but 
throughout the country. Many hot-headed Southerners were threat- 
ening secession should Mr. Banks be elected Speaker. Day after day 
the balloting continued. 

After a struggle continuing for several weeks Representative 
Samuel A. Smith, of Tennessee, a Democrat, offered a resolution pro- 
viding that the House should take three more ballots for Speaker, and 
should no one receive a majority, another call of the roll should be 
made, and the one receiving the highest number of votes should be 
declared Speaker. Under the operation of this resolution Mr. Banks 
was chosen Speaker on the 134th ballot. 

In this long struggle Mr. Coif ax, although a new member, took an 
active part. His first notable act was the shrewd turn he took against 


a series of resolutions that had been presented by one of the members 
from Maryland. The resolutions declared, among other things, that 
the Republicans desired to break up the Union. They concluded with 
a declaration that the Democrats would oppose, to the very end, the 
election as Speaker of any man who was not unreservedly committed 
to Democratic principles. 

Mr. Colfax obtained the floor and said that if the gentleman from 
Maryland would accept as a substitute for his resolutions certain reso- 
lutions he proposed to offer, he might feel constrained to vote for 
them. He then offered the following: 

"Resolved, That this House earnestly disapproves of any attempt, 
open or covert, to annex the Island of Cuba to this Republic. 

"Resolved, That it would heartily approve of the annexation of that 
part of Oregon which was surrendered to Great Britain by the admin- 
istration of James K. Polk." 

It was a barbed shaft, and its keenness was readily seen. As Mr. 
Colfax finished reading his proposed substitute he was greeted with 
shouts of laughter by both Republicans and Democrats. It was well 
known that in some parts of the South the annexation of Cuba was 
greatly desired, and what is known as "The Ostend Manifesto" had 
just been made public. Mr. Polk had been elected President on the 
slogan of "Fifty-four Forty, or Fight," and had accepted and approved 
a treaty giving Great Britain several degrees of the territory he was 
to insist upon if it took a fight. The keeness of the barb fired by Mr. 
Colfax quickly killed the resolutions of the Maryland member. 

Mr. Coif ax's first set speech as a member of the House was delivered 
in June, 1856, when, the affairs of Kansas were under consideration. 
His speech on that occasion was a review of the laws of Kansas, and 
its publication at once made him favorably known to the nation. It 
was a forcible and analytical dissection of certain laws that had been 
enacted by one of the two rival Legislatures in Kansas, and which had 
received the approval of President Pierce. There had been some 
threats uttered against anyone who should speak in opposition to 
slavery. Mr. Colfax opened his speech on this occasion with the fol- 
lowing defense of the right of every member of the House to the most 
perfect and absolute freedom of debate: 

In speaking of the provisions embodied in this voluminous document, and of the 
manner in which these "laws" have been enforced, I may feel it my duty to use plain 
and direct language; and I find my exemplar, as well as my justification for it, 
in the unlimited debate which, from the first day of the session, has been claimed 
and exercised by gentlemen of the other side of the House. And, recognizing that 
freedom of debate as we have, to the fullest extent, subject to the rules of the 
House, we intend to exercise it on this side, when we may see fit to do so, in the 
same ample manner. Hence, when we have so frequently been called "fanatics," 
and other epithets of denunciation, no one on these seats has even called gentle- 
men of the other side to* order. When it has pleased them to denounce us as 


Black Republicans, or colored Republicans, we have taken no exception to the 
attack, for we regard freedom of speech as one of the pillars of our free institu- 
tions. When, not content with this, they have charged us with implied perjury, 
in being hostile to the Constitution, and unfaithful to the Union, we have been 
content to leave the world to judge between us and our accusers a scrutiny in 
which principles will have more weight than denunciation. In spite of all these 
attacks we have not been moved to> any attempt to restrict the perfect and most 
unlimited freedom of speech on the part of our denouncers; for we acknowledge 
the truth of Jefferson's sentiment, that "Error ceases to be dangerous when 
Reason is left free to combat it." 

If that constitutional safeguard of our rights and liberties, free speech in de- 
bate, is to be recognized anywhere, it should certainly be recognized, enforced, 
and protected in this House. Every Representative of a free constituency, if 
worthy of that responsible position, should speak here at all times, not with "bated 
breath," but openly and fearlessly, the sentiments of that constituency; for, sir, 
it is not alone the two hundred and thirty-four members of this House who mingle 
in the arena of this debate, but here, within this bar, are the teeming millions of 
American freemen, not individually participating, as in Athens in the olden time, 
in the enactment of laws and the discussion and settlement of the foreign and 
domestic policy of the nation, but still, sir, participating in the persons of their 
representatives, whom they have commissioned to speak for them, in the impor- 
tant questions which are presented for our consideration. Here, in this august 
presence, before the whole American people, thus represented, stand, and must ever 
stand, States and statesmen, legislators and jurists, parties and principles, to be 
subject to the severest scrutiny and the most searching review. Here Alabama 
arraigns Massachusetts, as she has done through the mouth of one of her Repre- 
sentatives but a few weeks since; and here Massachusetts has equally the right 
to arraign any other State of the Confederacy. And while the Republic stands, 
the freedom of debate, guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, must and 
will be sustained and enforced on this floor. 

It was a noble defense of the freedom of debate, and won for the 
speaker renewed applause on the floor and in the galleries. A new 
party had been born and was a candidate for public favor. It had 
been born out of the opposition to the extension of slavery. Col. John 
C. Fremont was named in 1856 as its candidate for the presidency. 
When the ticket was named Mr. Coif ax became very active in its sup- 
port. He was a candidate to succeed himself as a member of the 
House. The national ticket of his party was defeated, but he was 
successful by an increased majority. The Kansas question was still 
troubling Congress and the country. In the Thirty-fifth Congress 
Mr, Colfax made another speech on that subject. What is known as 
the Lecompton Constitution had been presented to the President for 
his approval. On this Mr. Colfax said: 

Imagine, sir, George Washington sitting in the White House, that noble patriot, 
whose whole career is a brilliant illustration of honor and purity in high places; 
and who doubts that if such a constitution as this had been submitted to him for 
his sanction, he would have spurned from, his door with contempt and scorn the 
messenger who bore it? Or, ask yourself what would have been the indignant 
answer of Thomas Jefferson, who proclaimed as the battle-cry of the Eevolution 
that great truth enshrined in the Declaration which has made his name immortal, 


and which scattered to the winds the sophistries and technicalities of the royalists 
oi our land, that "all governments derive their just powers from the consent of 
the governed," not the implied consent of enforced submission, but the actual, 
undeniable, unquestioned consent of the freemen who are to bear its burdens and 
enjoy its blessings. If a messenger had dared to enter the portals of the White 
House when that stern old man of iron will, Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, lived 
within it, and asked him to give Ms indorsement and approval, the sanction of his 
personal character and official influence, to a constitution reeking with fraud, 
which its framers were seeking to enforce on a people who protested and de- 
nounced and loathed and repudiated it, and to go down to history as its voluntary 
advocate and champion, that messenger, I will warrant, would have remembered 
the torrent of rebuke with which he would have been overwhelmed to the latest 
hour of his life. 

By some biographers and writers Mr. Colfax has been frequently 
referred to as the father of our homestead laws. This is not, according 
to the real facts in the case. It is true he had much to do in framing 
and securing the enactment of those laws, but he was not the first to 
advocate such a system. A bill of that character had been pending 
before the two Houses of Congress for several sessions when Mr. Col- 
fax was appointed Chairman of the House Conferees. It was a long 
struggle to get the committee of conference to agree, and then it was 
a struggle to secure the acceptance by the House of the report of the 
committee. In the conferences Mr. Colfax was the placatory medium 
which finally obtained an agreement, and it was through his skill the 
report of the committee was finally concurred in. 

Mr. Colfax was continually urging economy in the administration 
of the business of the Government, and it might be said he sometimes 
went to an extreme in that direction. He was also a constant advocate 
of cheap postage, and on several occasions attempted to secure the 
abolition of the franking privilege. He also advocated, with great zeal, 
placing sugar on the free list. 

When the Thirty-sixth Congress met in December, 1859, the coun- 
try was torn with excitement over the slavery question. Mr. Colfax 
was again a member of the House. The election of a Speaker brought 
another long and angry struggle. Shortly before the session was 
opened a book called "The Impending Crisis" had been issued. It was 
a severe arraignment of slavery from an ecomonic standpoint, and it 
had aroused the wrath of the South. John Sherman, a Representative 
from Ohio, was the Republican candidate for Speaker, and Mr. Bocock, 
of Virginia, was the Democratic candidate. The House contained a 
majority in opposition to the administration of President Buchanan, 
almost wholly because of the condition of affairs in Kansas, but the 
opposition was divided by factions. Immediately after taking the first 
ballot for Speaker, which was ineffectual, a resolution was offered that 
no member of the House who had endorsed the "Impending Crisis" 
was fit to be Speaker. It was especially aimed at Mr. Sherman. 


The resolution brought a storm of protest, and an angry debate fol- 
lowed its introduction, especially from the more courageous among- the 
Republicans. In the course of the struggle to elect a Speaker, which 
continued until the 1st of February, Mr. Coif ax said : 

We have appealed to the other side over and over again to apply to this elec- 
tion the test by which every member holds his seat on this floor. In every State 
of the Union, from Maine to California, Representatives to Congress are elected, 
not by an absolute majority vote, but by a plurality vote. There is only one excep- 
tion, I believe, and that is the State of Rhode Island; and there, on a second ballot, 
a plurality elects. Wisely has every State of the Union determined that if the 
people choose to scatter their votes in the exercise of a public trust, the men who 
receive the highest number of votes shall be elected, so that the organization of 
the Government can go on, and not lapse for lack of a majority of votes. After 
waiting here patiently, when a petition comes in from the mail contractors, ask- 
ing us to organize and pay their honest debts, we have appealed to the other side 
of the House to apply the same rule to the election of a Speaker that was applied 
to their own election, and that he who received the highest number of votes should 
be declared elected. We have waited to see if there would be any coalition, any 
cement, any billing and cooing, by which a majority could be obtained to defeat 
the gentleman from Ohio. We have waited for this long and patiently; it is time 
now when gentlemen appeal to us to pay the debts of the Government, and when 
they themselves stand in the way of an organization, .that the same test by which 
they received the credentials which entitle them to seats here shall be applied to 
the election of a presiding officr. I have been surprised to hear gentlemen who 
are such strict constructionists of the Constitution talk about electing a Speaker 
pro tempore for this House. Such a thing is unknown to the Constitution. We 
are authorized by the Constitution to elect a Speaker. We are commanded by the 
law to elect a Speaker before we proceed to other business, and there is nothing 
in the Constitution to warrant us in electing a Speaker pro tempore. 

At another time he was bitterly assailed, and one of his opponents 
charged him with having committed a crime if he had endorsed the 
obnoxious "Impending Crisis." Mr. Colfax's reply was such that the 
other side of the House was willing to let him alone. In the course 
of his reply he said: 

I am in the habit of acknowledging iny accountability, not to the gentlemen 
upon the other side of the House, but to my constituents. I am accountable to 
them for what sentiments I express here and elsewhere. I have heard gentlemen 
arise on the other side, and, after denouncing John Brown, declare that if the 
people of the United States, under the Constitution, should elect this or that citi- 
zen to the presidency, eligible though he might be under the Constitution, they 
would resist his inauguration by force; that they will not wait for any overt act, 
but that at once they will prevent the consummation of the people's election. I do 
not ask them to be responsible to me for the expression of such sentiments, nor 
will I use offensive language against that declaration which grates so strangely 
upon the ear when uttered upon the floor of the American Congress, I am ac- 
countable, I say to the gentleman from Mississippi, to my constituents, and not 
to Mm or anybody else; and I am not afraid to meet that constituency, to appear 
at that tribunal where I have so often met them before. If they receive my ex- 
planations, it must satisfy the gentlemen on the other side, who are in no way 
responsible for my presence in this House and who have no power to prevent me 
from occupying a seat here as the Representative of those who have honored me 


with this trust. I yield the gentlemen on the opposite side of the House the same 
rights that I claim and insist on having for myself. In a subsequent stage of the 
session, when the House is organized, if Mr. Sherman or myself rises to speak 
and to express our dissent from any portion of the Helper Book, let me assure, 
gentlemen, it will not be done upon compulsion and demand, but voluntarily and 
because we deem it fit to do so. 

It was during this session that Mr. Colfax won the approbation of 
the Washington Press Gallery by the defense he made of one of its 
members. By his strictures upon some of the Democratic members 
of the House the correspondent of the New York Herald had aroused 
resentment, and a resolution was introduced to expel him from the 
gallery. Mr. Colfax delivered an impassioned defense of a free press 
which delighted the correspondents and made them his lasting friends. 
In the course of his remarks he said : 

I stand here, and I shall always stand here, as the defender of the freedom of 
the press in this country; and if gentlemen do not like the press to strike back, 
they should themselves withhold the blow which provokes it. I always regret to 
see gentlemen rising here with newspaper extracts in their hands, and basing 
upon them personal explanations, in which they employ language which, for the 
sake of harmony and concord and for the sake of keeping our record free from 
personalities, might as well be omitted. These differences and disputes had better 
be settled elsewhere. I do not allude to the code of honor, but outside of this 
House, in the courts, and not be brought here. Gentlemen who sit upon this side 
of the House have been attacked by the very paper to which the gentleman alludes 
in the severest and bitterest language of invective, but we do not complain. 

After the House organization was effected by the election of Kep- 
resentative Pendleton, of New Jersey, Mr. Colfax was made Chairman 
of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Eoads. He favored a num- 
ber of improvements in the service, notably as to the construction of 
post roads. He held it to be the duty of the general Government to 
provide roads so that those living in scattered settlements on the 
frontier could get their mails with reasonable promptness and regu- 
larity. He especially was insistent upon a more direct and speedy con- 
nection between the Atlantic and Pacific seacoasts. He was among 
the earliest, as well as among the most earnest, advocates of a trans- 
continental railroad. But just at that time the political horizon was 
so darkened that men's minds could not be brought into activity for 
such a venture. 

The campaign of 1860 found Mr. Colfax abundant opportunities for 
the display of his qualities as a stump speaker. He was a warm, per- 
sonal friend of Mr. Lincoln, his party's candidate for President, and 
was a firm believer and ardent advocate of the political principles ad- 
vanced by that great man. He threw himself into the work of the 
campaign with all his customary ardor. 

The last session of the Thirty-sixth Congress began its session a 
few weeks after the election of Mr. Lincoln. It was a very solemn 


gathering-. War, war between brothers, was looming darkly over the 
land. South Carolina withdrew from the Union, soon followed by 
other Southern States, and a new Government was organized. Presi- 
dent Buchanan in his message called the attention of Congress to the 
serious conditions confronting the country, and expressed a hope that 
Congress would be able to enact such measures as would assure peace. 
It was not to be. 

Again Mr. Colfax took up the matter of an overland mail to the 
Pacific. The committee sustained him in his efforts, and at last an 
overland system was put in operation, thus bringing the two extremes 
of the country into closer connection. 

Mr. Colfax was again elected to Congress and took his seat in the 
Thirty-seventh, and was again made Chairman of the Committee on 
Post Offices and Post Roads. The war was on, armies were in the 
field. Mr. Colfax devoted his energies in securing better mail service 
to the various armies. Among other things he secured an amendment 
to the postage rates permitting soldiers in the field to send mail home 
without the prepayment of postage. 

He gave vigorous support to the administration in the prosecution 
of the war. One of the most eloquent speeches of his lif e in fact, one 
of the most eloquent found in the pages of the Congressional Record 
is the one he delivered on the death of Senator Baker, who fell at the 
head of his brigade in the battle of Ball's Bluff. It is too long for 
insertion in a sketch as short as this necessarily must be, but it is 
worthy a reading as a masterpiece of eulogistic speaking. 

On the opening of the Thirty-eighth Congress Mr. Colfax was 
elected Speaker of the House. The war was still continuing its course, 
but the resistance of the South was evidently weakening and the signs 
of the times pointed a final and full triumph of the defenders of the 
Union. Vigorous measures were still needed on the part of Congress, 
and in his speech of acknowledgment of his selection as Speaker, Mr. 
Colfax called attention to the existing situation, and expressed his 
firm conviction the end was not far off. 

There was one act of Speaker Colfax during this his first term of 
presiding over the House that awakened much criticism, and was a 
cause of regret on the part of his friends. Alexander Long, a Repre- 
sentative from Ohio, made a speech on the floor of the House in which 
he pronounced himself as being in favor of recognizing the independ- 
ence of the States forming the Southern Confederacy. The next day 
Speaker Colfax called a member of the House to the chair, and, taking 
the floor, he offered a resolution reciting the speech of Mr. Long, and 
calling for his expulsion from the House. A long debate followed, re- 
sulting in the House administering the most severe rebuke to Mr. 
Long. It was thought by some of Mr. Colfax' s friends that his act in 


taking the floor for the purpose of introducing the resolution for ex- 
pulsion was undignified. Of these criticisms Mr. Coif ax said : 

The gentlemen on the other side, every one, indeed, who have referred to it at 
ail, have been kind enough to speak of my impartiality as the Presiding Officer 
of the House. I thank them for this testimonial, which I have endeavored to de- 
serve. But at the same time most of them have expressed "regret" that I left 
the Speaker's chair and came down upon the floor of the House. I have, however, 
no regret; not even denunciations of the press, nor thei strictures of members 
upon this floor, to which I have listened in respectful silence without interrupting 
them, have caused me a moment's regret. I did it in the performance of what 
seemed to me an imperative duty, from conscientious conviction, and from no 
personal unkindness toward the gentleman from Ohio. I have no personal un- 
kindness toward Mm or any human being who lives upon the earth. And if it had 
been understood when, as a Representative from the Ninth Congressional District 
of Indiana, your kindness and confidence placed me in the Speaker's chair, I was 
to go there fettered and tongue-tied, and to leave the people of that district dis- 
franchised, that for all time to come during this Congress I should not speak for 
my country, I should have thanked you for the election, but would have rejected 
and spruned the commission. 

I stand upon this floor today by no condescension from that responsible posi- 
tion. No, sir, in that chair I am the servant of the House to administer its rules, 
but on the floor the equal of any other member no more, no less. Duty is often 
unpleasant, sometimes distasteful and repulsive j but, sir, the man who will not 
fearlessly discharge his duty is not lit to be in public life. 

At the close of his term as Speaker, the House, with practical unan- 
imity, adopted a resolution highly commendatory of the conduct of 
Mr. Golf ax in the chair. In fact, there have been but few men serving 
as Speaker of the House who equaled Mr. Coif ax in his popularity with 
the members. This was only a few hours before Mr. Lincoln was to 
be inaugurated President for a second term. In response to the com- 
mendatory resolution, Mr. Colfax, after referring to the honor be- 
stowed upon him in the election as Speaker and of his endeavor to be 
impartial in his rulings, said : 

On this day, which by spontaneous consent is being observed wherever our flag 
floats as a day of national rejoicing with the roar of cannon greeting the rising 
sun on the rockbound coast of Maine, echoed and re-echoed by answering volleys 
from city to city, and from mountain peak to mountain peak, till from the Golden 
Gate it dies away far out on the calm Pacific, we mingle our congratulations with 
those of the freemen we represent over the victories for the Union that have made 
the winter just closing so warm with joy and hope. With them we rejoice that 
the national standard which our Revolutionary fathers unfurled over the land, but 
which rebellion sought to strike down and destroy, waves as undisputed at this 
glad hour over the cradle of secession as over the cradle of liberty at Faneuil Hall, 
and that the whole firmament is aflame with the brilliant glow of triumphs for the 
cause so dear to every patriot heart. . . . We turn, too, today, with a prouder 
joy than ever before, to that banner, brilliant with stars from the heavens and 
radiant with the glories from earth, . . . But in this hour of gladness I cannot 
forget the obligations, paramount and undying, we owe to our heroic defenders 
on every battlefield upon the land, and every wave-rocked monitor and frigate 
upon the sea. Inspired by the sublimest spirit of self-sacrifice, they have realized 


a million-fold the historic fable of Curtius, as they have offered to close up, with 
their own bodies, if need be, the yawning chasm that imperiled the Republic. . . . 
Rejoicing over the bow of promise we already see arching the storm cloud of 
war, giving assurance that no deluge of secession sliall again overwhelm our 
nation, we can join, with heart and soul, sincerely and trustingly, in the poet's 

"Now, Father, lay thy healing hand 
In mercy on our stricken land; 
Lead all its wanderers to the fold, 
And be their Shepherd, as of old. 

"So shall our nation's song ascend 
To Thee, our Ruler, Father, Friend; 
While heaven's wide arch resounds again 
With 'Peace on earth, good will to men.' " 

We go hence, with our official labors ended, to the Senate Chamber and the 
portico of the Capitol, there, with the statue of the goddess of Liberty looking 
down for the first time from her lofty pedestal on such a scene, to witness and 
participate in the inauguration of the Elect of the American people. 

The assassination of President Lincoln soon followed his inaugura- 
tion. Mr. Colfax was returned a member of the Thirty-ninth Con- 
gress, and was again elected Speaker. An onerous task lay before that 
Congress. The war was over, but reconstruction of the lately seced- 
ing States was to be solved. The assassination of President Lincoln 
had aroused a most bitter feeling in the North and severe measures 
were demanded, the radical element demanding the punishment of 
those who had been the leaders in the. movement to disrupt the Union. 
The sessions of the Thirty-ninth Congress are among the most notable 
in our political history. The Southern States were to be reconstructed, 
the colored race so lately changed from slavery to f reedmen was to be 
protected from unjust or oppressive laws enacted by State legisla- 
tures, and then came the break between Congress and the President, 
which brought about the enactment of the Tenure of Office Law. 

The sessions of the House were often stormy, and it took all the 
tact and firmness of the Speaker to maintain even a semblance of 
order. There was, probably, no man in that Congress other than 
Mr. Colfax who could have maintained order and enabled the House 
to transact the business before it. He was firm, yet conciliatory ; just 
and impartial in his rulings, and retained his great popularity with 
the members, even with those of the opposing party. 

In 1866 he was elected a member of the House for the seventh time, 
and when the House met received his third election as Speaker. It 
was during this term as Speaker the attempt was made to impeach 
the President. It fell to the lot of Mr. Colfax to appoint the committee 
that was to prepare the articles of impreachment. 

Mr. Elaine, in his "Twenty Years in Congress," thus speaks of Mr. 
Colfax's speech at the opening of the session: "The address of the 


Speaker on taking the chair is usually confined to thanks for his 
election and courteous assurance of his impartiality and good inten- 
tions. But Mr. Colfax, instinctively quick, as he always was, to dis- 
cern the current of popular thought, incorporated in his ceremonial 
address some very decisive political declarations. Referring to the 
fact that the Thirty-eighth Congress had closed nine months before, 
with the 'storm cloud of war still lowering over us/ and rejoicing that 
'today from shore to shore of our land there is peace/ he proceeded 
to indicate the line of policy which the people expected. The duties of 
Congress/ said he, 'are as obvious as the sun's pathway in the 
heavens. Its first and highest obligation is to guarantee to every 
State a republican form of government, to establish the rebellious 
States anew on such basis of enduring justice as will guarantee all 
safeguards to the people and protection to all men in their inalienable 
rights.' ... In this great work the world should witness the most 
inflexible fidelity, the most earnest devotion to the principles of liberty 
and humanity, the truest patriotism and the wisest statesmanship." 

As the time approached for the parties to select their national ticket 
there was but one voice among the Republicans as to who should head 
their ticket, but there was some division of thought as to the second 
place. In this Mr. Colfax was easily the leader. His six years as 
Speaker of the House had increased his popularity and his standing 
as a national figure. On this Mr. Blaine in his valuable contribution 
to political history, "Twenty Years in Congress/' says : 'The friends 
of Mr. Colfax relied less on thorough organization and systematic 
work than upon the common judgment that he would be a fit and 
available candidate. He was then at the height of his successful 
career. He was in the third term of his Speakership, and had ac- 
quitted himself in that exacting place with ability and credit. Genial 
and cordial, with unfailing tact and aptitude, skilful in cultivating 
friendships and never provoking enmities, he had, in a rare degree, 
the elements that insure popularity." 

Mr. Colfax was nominated for Vice-President with Mr. Grant, and 
he stepped from the presiding chair in the House to that in the Senate, 
the only case of its kind in our history. He presided over the delibera- 
tions of the Senate for four years with the same urbanity and tactful- 
ness that had distinguished him as Speaker of the House. During his 
term as Vice-President his name, with a number of others, became 
involved in the Credit Mobilier scandal, but no reliable evidence was 
ever presented that he had ever held any of the bonds or stock of that 
concern. He was not renominated in 1872, and at the end of his four 
years retired to private life. 

After surrendering the office of Vice-President, Mr. Colfax gave most 
of his time until his death in delivering his lecture on President Lin- 
coln. As a lecturer he was exceedingly popular. His death partook 

Forty-first, Forty-second and Forty-third Congresses 


of the tragic. He left his home to go to Mankato, Minn., to deliver his 
Lincoln lecture. He was then seemingly in the best of health, with a 
long life before him. On his way he passed through Indianapolis, and 
was there greeted by his many friends. To them he spoke freely, of 
his intentions for the future, even going so far as to discuss making 
that city his permanent home. Arriving at Mankato, he stepped from 
the car to the platform of the station and dropped dead. 

Mr. Colfax was a prominent member of the Independent Order of 
Odd Fellows, and was the originator and organizer of the Order of 
Rebecca, connected with that organization. 


TAMES GILLESPIE ELAINE Speaker of the House of Representatives 
J in the Forty-first, Forty-second, and Forty-third Congresses. Born 
in West Brownsville, Washington County, Pennsylvania, January 31, 
1830. Son of Ephriam Lyon and Maria Louisa (Gillespie) Blaine. 
Educated in Washington College, Pennsylvania. Married Miss Har- 
riet Stanwood, June 30, 1850. Died in Washington City, January 27, 

For nearly a third of a century James Gillespie Blaine was a dis- 
tinguished statesman and party leader. In the strong sense of the 
term he could not be called a great political leader, for, during his en- 
tire public career, he did not originate or formulate any great scheme 
of political policies. He was a party leader of almost unequaled influ- 
ence and skill. As a debater of political questions, either in the halls 
of Congress or on the stump, he had few rivals during his period of 

His ancestors both on his father's and his mother's side came to this 
country from Ireland. One of his ancestors served the country in 
several military and civic capacities. He was a soldier during the war 
for independence, and later held several offices in the civil administra- 
tion. His mother was a devout member of the Roman Catholic 
Church, but young James was brought up in the Presbyterian faith. 

James made his preparation for college in the home of Thomas 
Ewing, a relative by marriage, at the Ewing homestead in Lancaster, 
Ohio. Mr. Ewing was one of the great lawyers of the country, and 
had a distinguished political career. It may be that it was at the home 
of Mr. Ewing young Blaine was fired with the political ambition that 
characterized his after-life, a laudable and worthy ambition. His 
tutor in Lancaster was a Mr. Lyons, an uncle of that Lord Lyons who 
was British Minister to Washington during the administration of 
President Lincoln. James entered Washington College at the age of 
thirteen and was graduated four years later. In college he was re- 


garded by the faculty and by his fellow students as one possessing 
great talents. 

He adopted teaching as his profession, and an opening in Kentucky 
presenting itself he removed to that State. It was said that James 
did not leave on his classmates an impression that he was destined to 
a great career in political life, but rather that his talents led in another 
direction. He was a bright scholar and a close and industrious stu- 
dent, and his classmates expected for him a high career as a teacher. 

In Kentucky he selected Lexington, the home of the great Henry 
Clay, as the place of his location, and made that city his headquarters 
until he found occupation as a teacher. At Georgetown, some twelve 
miles from Lexington, was the Western Military Institute. Hearing 
that the Institute was in need of a teacher, he at once applied for the 
place. He was accepted and in January, 1848, he became teacher of 
Latin, Greek, and elementary geometry in the Institute. He was only 
eighteen years of age, a rather youthful period to hold such a position 
in an Institute of that high class, but he soon won a reputation as a 
thorough instructor, and became very popular with the faculty and 
with the students. He ever had a way of making friends. He re- 
mained at the Institute for four years, and then returned to Pennsyl- 
vania, making his home in Philadelphia, where for two years he taught 
the higher branches in the Pennsylvania Institute for the Blind. While 
thus engaged he studied law, but the practice of that science was not 
to be his life work. 

He had some business connections in Maine, and on one of his 
periodical visits to that State it was suggested to him to purchase a 
controlling interest in the Kennebec Journal, a prosperous and influ- 
ential paper. After some consideration the purchase was made and 
Mr. Elaine became an editor. In this position he displayed versatility 
and strength as a writer, especially upon political subjects. The posi- 
tion of editor was one suited to his talents and his disposition. It 
brought him into contact with the leading politicians of the State, and 
opened wide the doors to future advancement. He devoted himself to 
a study of the political situation in Maine. Stirring national questions 
were engaging the public mind at that time. Opposition to the insti- 
tution of slavery was rapidly growing throughout the North. 

Old political associations were dissolving and new ones being 
formed. The Whig party had practically gone to pieces after its defeat 
in 1852, and the new Republican party was beginning to function. 
Several important national questions were dividing the people into new 
political alignments, but that of slavery was the absorbing one. 

All the old great leaders, Clay, Webster, Calhoun, and their aides 
were dead. It was a time for new leaders to make themselves felt, a 
time for new thoughts, a time for new associations. It was a time 
when virile newspaper writing was in demand, and a time when it was 


to reap its highest reward in influence. Mr. Elaine soon established 
his right to a high place among newspaper writers. In those days the 
editorial chair was the stepping stone into political life. So it was 
with Mr. Elaine. In 1856 he was chosen as one of the delegates from 
Maine to the national convention of the newly organized Republican 
party. It was the convention which nominated Colonel John C. Fre- 
mont as its candidate for the presidency. The nomination being made 
and the platform adopted, Mr. Elaine returned to Maine to begin a most 
vigorous campaign for the ticket. He did not confine his activities 
to his editorial writings alone, but took an active part in the speaking 
campaign, where he soon proved himself to be a speaker of much more 
than ordinary ability. His editorials were strong and pungent, many 
of them being written during resting spells as he traveled over the 

Before the campaign closed Mr. Elaine had established himself as 
one of the leaders of the new party in the Pine Tree State. His ac- 
quaintance had been extended and his influence widened. This was 
displayed by the fact that before he had completed a residence of four 
years in the State he was elected a member of the Legislature, This 
was in 1858, and may be called the beginning of his public career. 
Four times he was elected to the State Legislature, and each time with- 
out a contest for the nomination. At the beginning of his third term 
he was elected Speaker of the House. His suave manners and his 
strict impartiality made him exceedingly popular as a presiding officer. 

His abilities soon placed him at the head of his party in the State, 
and he became a national figure in politics before he was sent to Wash- 
ington as a member of the House of Representatives. So strong was 
he with his party in Maine that he practically dictated the ticket for 
State offices, and the platform upon which they were to stand. Gov- 
ernor Kent, one of the greatest of Maine's public men, said of liim: 
"Almost from the day of his assuming editorial charge of the Kenne- 
bec Journal, at the early age of twenty-three, Mr. Elaine sprang into a 
position of great influence in the politics and policies of Maine. At 
twenty-five he was a leading power in the councils of the Republican 
party, so recognized by Fessenden, Hamlin, and the two Morrills, and 
others then prominent in the State. Before he was twenty-nine he was 
chosen chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican or- 
ganization in Maine a position from which he practically shaped 
and directed every political campaign in the State, always leading 
his party to brilliant victory." 

When the war between the States came Mr. Elaine threw himself 
into the task of aiding the Government with all the energy he pos- 
sessed. In 1862 he was the candidate of the Republican party in his 
district for Congress. He was successful at the polls and was five 
times renominated and reelected. It may be said here that he was 


never defeated before the people of Maine for any office. He took his 
seat in the Thirty-eighth Congress as a member of the House of Rep- 
resentatives, and very soon became one of the leaders of his party, 
both in formulating policies and in debate. 

The Civil War was raging at the time he took his seat in the House; 
the administration of Mr. Lincoln had to frequently struggle to secure 
the passage of legislation he deemed prudent and necessary, members 
of his own party placing themselves ofttimes in direct opposition. Mr. 
Elaine was never in that class. He stood by the administration with 
all the powers he possessed. 

It would be impossible in such a brief sketch as this must be to fol- 
low him in anything like detail through his long career in the House. 
He served on a number of important committees and took part in 
nearly all the leading debates. He had in Congress the same genial 
nature that had made him popular when a student in college, and when 
he was a member of the Maine Legislature. He had one or two nota- 
ble quarrels, however, the most important and the one best known to 
the reading public was that with Mr. Conkling, then a member of the 
House, representing a New York district. It was small in its beginning, 
but it lasted during the lives of the two most interested. And it may 
have been one of the factors which prevented Mr. Elaine from reach- 
ing the presidency. 

He favored the establishment of the National Baiik system, but 
earnestly sought to amend the provision permitting the banks to 
charge seven per cent, interest on loans. In this he antagonized Thad. 
Stevens, who at that time was the actual and potential ruler of the 
House. In the second session of that Congress he had a second tilt 
with Mr. Stevens. That distinguished Representative introduced a 
bill punishing parties who made contracts payable in gold. It was 
an attempt to place gold and the new paper money on a parity in all 
business transactions. The first effect of the introduction of the bill 
was to send the premium on gold to a much higher rate than it had 
been before. 

On its introduction the bill was sent to the Committee on Ways and 
Means. The next morning Mr. Elaine made a motion to recall the bill 
from the Committee. The motion was bitterly fought by Stevens, but 
Mr. Elaine was successful, securing a return of the bill to the House. 
As soon as the motion to recall was agreed to, Mr. Elaine moved to lay 
the bill on the table. In that he was also successful. By thus killing* 
the bill he steadied the gold situation, to the great benefit of business. 

It was in the Thirty-ninth Congress the famous quarrel with Mr. 
Conkling occurred. It was a needless quarrel, and while Mr. Elaine 
came out first best so far as the war of words was concerned, it never 
ceased to trouble him in his after political life. The bitter feeling it 
engendered led Mr. Conkling to believe that it was through the influ- 


ence of Mr. Elaine, then Secretary of State, that he was thwarted in 
the matter of certain appointments in New York, which led to the 
resignation by Mr. Conkling of his senatorial seat. 

The start of it was in an amendment offered by Mr. Conkling to the 
army bill. The amendment provided for the abolition of the office of 
Provost Marshal General. It was in itself a very proper amendment, 
as the war having ended there was no real need for such an officer. 
But it was charged against Mr. Conkling that his motive was to pun- 
ish the officer then holding that office for refusing certain favors to the 
Congressman. Mr. Blaine took this view, and in his remarks was 
harsh and bitter in his comments on the attitude of the New York Rep- 
resentative. Mr. Conkling was himself a master of sarcasm, and was 
by no means of a placable disposition. He retorted in kind, and the 
battle of words was waged for several days. Mr. Conkling never for- 
gave Elaine's remark about the "turkey-trot strut" of the New Yorker. 
The after result of the quarrel was deplorable' especially from a party 
standpoint. While not bolting the nomination of Mr. Blaine in 1884 
Mr. Conkling did not take the active part in the campaign in New 
York that might have resulted in carrying that State for the Kepub- 
lican ticket and in making Mr. Blaine President instead of Mr. Cleve- 

It was during the session of the Thirty-ninth Congress that the con- 
test began between Congress and President Johnson. It was over the 
reconstruction of the Southern States. The President had taken the 
whole matter of reconstruction in his own hands. President Johnson 
was one of those unfortunate men in public life who do everything in 
an extreme manner. When he first took the office made vacant by the 
assassination of President Lincoln, he gave utterance to the most 
vengeful feeling toward the Southern States so lately in insurrection, 
denouncing those who had taken part in the insurrection in the most 
bitter way. By so doing he had increased the bitter feeling already 
existing in the North, and alarmed the people of the South. 

Suddenly his attitude changed and he favored the immediate politi- 
cal restoration of the States without any guaranties as to the future, 
especially as to the condition of a race just emerging from a state of 
slavery. This attitude aroused the North and brought about a bitter 
strife in Congress, much to the injury of the South, for his extreme 
leniency operated to cause Congress to err in the opposite direction. 

Mr. Stevens took the position that the States had taken themselves 
out of the Union, that their citizens were alien enemies who had been 
conquered, and that the States could regain a position in the Union 
only by their readmission as foreign territory. This was an extreme 
view, and one directly contrary to that held by the late President Lin- 
coln, who had consistently declared that the States had never been out 
of the Union. Extreme as was this position of Mr. Stevens it found 


supporters among the Republicans, a number siding with him, and by 
numberless newspapers. 

To this view Mr. Elaine never gave his consent. He was strenuous 
in opposing the policy of President Johnson, and insisted on effective 
guaranties against any attempt in the future to disrupt the Union, on 
a plea of "States' Rights." He also insisted upon guaranties that the 
colored race should receive ample protection under the laws. He op- 
posed any measure which imposed conditions on the rehabilitated 
States which did not hold out hope that they would be welcomed back 
into the Union when the proper guaranties had been given. 

While the question of reconstruction was before the House he spoke 
almost daily on some feature of the measure. It was well known that 
no State of the South would voluntarily bestow the right of suffrage 
on the colored race. Yet, under the constitution as it stood their rep- 
resentation in the House of Representatives and in the Electoral Col- 
lege would be largely increased, and increased to the disadvantage of 
the Northern States. This was a serious problem before Congress, 

When the Fourteenth Amendment was under discussion it was Mr. 
Elaine who proposed the amendment that the basis for representation 
in Congress and in the Electoral College should be the total population, 
but diminished proportionately should the elective franchise be denied 
any class of citizens. The amendment was finally adopted by Congress 
after a long and stormy debate, but it is now, as it always has been, 

The controversy between the President and Congress over the 
reconstruction of the Southern States brought about an effort to im- 
peach the President. Mr. Elaine did not approve of the movement, but 
yielded to his party associates. His objection was more on the ground 
of policy than in active belief that the President had not been guilty 
of impeachable offenses. It is needless here to recount the story of 
the impeachment and trial of the President. It failed. 

During this long struggle between the President and Congress Mr* 
Elaine was growing in favor with his party throughout the country. 
He took a prominent part in all the debates in the House, and aided his 
party by his voice on the rostrum and by his editorial pen during each 
recurring campaign. 

On the assembling of the Forty-first Congress, March 4, 1869, Mr. 
Elaine was elected Speaker of the House by a vote of 135 against 47 
for Michael C. Kerr. At that time Mr. Elaine was one of the most 
popular men in Congress. His services on the stump during the first 
Grant campaign, and his thorough knowledge of parliamentary law& 
and usage made him the logical candidate of his party for Speaker. He 
was then serving his third term as a member of the House. His 
career had been a series of successes since his entry into public life. 


His position as Speaker gave him a commanding position politically, 
and his friends began to talk of him as being of presidential size. 
General Grant was just beginning* his first term as President. The 
animosities of the war had not entirely passed away, and there was 
much to do before the Southern States were brought into their full 
place in the Union, but General Grant's epigramatic phrase, "Let us 
have peace," had poured oil on the troubled waters and a better feeling 

In addition to what was needed to be done for the final and complete 
restoration of the Union grave financial problems were to be solved. 
The condition of the ex-slaves in the Southern States was deplorable, 
and demanded some action on the part of Congress. Then, too, some 
grave complications with foreign countries existed. 

In both Houses of Congress the Republicans held an overwhelming 
majority, and there was still a disposition on the part of the more 
radical element in the party to deal harshly with the States that had 
formed the Southern Confederacy. Mr. Blaine was never a radical 
in that direction. He earnestly desired a speedy and complete restora- 
tion of the Union, but wanted it accomplished with full guaranties for 
the colored people. 

Mr. Blaine was twice redacted Speaker, serving- in the Forty-second 
and Forty-third Congresses. At the close of his third term he ad- 
dressed the House as follows : 

I close with this hour six years of service as Speaker of the House of Repre- 
sentatives a period surpassed in length but by two of my predecessors, and 
equaled only by two others. The rapid mutuations of personal and political for- 
tunes in this country have limited the great majority of those who have sat in 
this chair to shorter terms of office. 

It would be the gravest insensibility to the honors and responsibilities of life 
not to be deeply touched by so signal a mark of public esteem as that which I 
have thrice received at the hands of my political associates. I desire in this last 
moment to renew to them, one and all, my thanks and my gratitude* 

To those from whom I differ in my party relationsthe minority in this House 
-I tender my acknowledgments for the generous courtesy with which they have 
treated me. By one of those sudden and decisive changes which distinguish popu- 
lar institutions and which conspicuously mark a free people, that minority is 
transformed in the ensuing Congress to the governing power of the House. How- 
ever it might possibly have been under other circumstances, that event necessarily 
renders these words my farewell to the chair. 

The Speakership of the House of Representatives is a post of honor, of dignity, 
of responsibility. Its duties are at once complex and continuous; they are both 
onerous and delicate; they are performed in the broad light of day under the eye 
of the whole people, subject at all times to the closest observation, and always 
attended with the sharpest criticism. I think no other official is held to such rigid 
accountability. Parliamentary rulings in their nature are peremptory, almost ab- 
solute in authority and instantaneous in effect* They cannot always be enforced 
in such a way as to wm applause or secure popularity, but I am sure that no man 
of any party who is worthy to fill this chair will ever see a dividing line between 
duty and policy. 


Thanking you once more, and thanking you most cordially for the honorable 
testimonial you have placed on record to my credit, I perform my only remaining 
duty in declaring that the Forty-third Congress has reached its constitutional 
limit, and that the House of Representatives stands adjourned without delay. 

The universal testimony was that Mr. Elaine had been a most ad- 
mirable presiding officer. It is also due him to say that he always fa- 
vored economy in the administration of the Government. It was dur- 
ing his that what is historically known as the "Salary 
Grab*' was enacted. It provided for an increase in the compensation 
of members of Congress and others, the increase as to members of Con- 
gress dating back to the beginning of that Congress. Mr. Elaine re- 
fused to accept the increase provided for him. 

In 1874 a political tidal wave swept over the country, and the Eepub- 
lican majority in the House was overturned. Mr. Blain ( e was one of 
the fortunate of his party and was successfully reelected as a member, 
but the Speaker's chair went to one of the majority party. His pres- 
tige as Speaker during three terms had made him a national figure, 
and in the new Congress he added largely to his reputation as a ready 
and effective debater. He was the party leader in the House. Just at 
that time there was considerable agitation regarding religious instruc- 
tion in the public schools. Mr. Elaine attempted to secure an amend- 
ment to the Constitution declaring that no State should make any law 
respecting the establishment of religion, or forbidding the free exer- 
cise thereof; and that no money raised by taxation in any State 
for the support of public schools, or derived from any fund there- 
for, nor any public lands devoted thereto, should ever be under 
the control of any religious sect, nor should any money so raised, 
or lands so devoted, be divided between religious sects or denomi- 

This proposition he supported with all his zeal, but he failed in 
securing its approval by the House. Since that time there has been a 
number of attempts by States to regulate teaching in the public schools 
so far as the Bible is concerned, and of late the agitation has become 
quite acute. Mr. Elaine's proposed amendment would not have shut 
out the teaching of the Bible, but would have barred the teaching of 
the tenets of any sect. 

It was during the Forty-third Congress that serious charges were 
made in some of the newspapers and on the floor of Congress against 
Mr. Elaine's integrity. The Credit Mobilier scandal was agitating the 
whole country. Mr. Elaine demanded the fullest investigation so far 
as he was concerned. The Forty-fourth Congress assembled on the 
6th of December, 1875. The Democrats held a majority in the House 
and Michael C. Kerr was elected Speaker by a vote of 173 against 106 
for Mr. Elaine. 

It was during the first session of that Congress the great parlia- 
mentary fight occurred over a movement by the Democratic majority 


to remove the disabilities to hold office imposed by the Fourteenth 
Amendment. When the resolution was presented Mr. Elaine offered an 
amendment which would exclude Jeff. Davis from the benefits of the 
amnesty proposted. He supported his amendment in an elaborate 
speech. It was the most scathing and bitter denunciation delivered dur- 
ing his whole public career. The speech was so bitter that it brought 
out severe rebuke from several of the leaders of the House. It was, 
however, the death blow to the proposed universal amnesty. 

During the time he was serving as Speaker several charges were 
made involving his integrity as a public servant. Among the charges 
was one connecting him with the Credit Mobilier scandal heretofore 
mentioned. Smarting under the insinuations which had been made, 
Mr. Elaine called Representative S. S. Cox, one of the leaders of the 
Democrats, to the Chair, and took the floor in his own defense, and 
presented a resolution providing for the appointment of a committee 
to investigate the charges made against him. After a most thorough 
and searching investigation the committee declared the charges, so far 
as Mr. Elaine was concerned, were without the shadow of a foundation. 

Very few of the men who from time to time have been active in 
political affairs in this country have entirely escaped detractions of 
some sort by those who were politically opposed to them. Even the 
great and good Father of his Country, the revered Washington, was 
most bitterly assailed during the eight years of his presidency. It was 
scarcely to be hoped that one so brilliant and so active in all political 
affairs of his time as Mr. Elaine should wholly escape. The commit- 
tee investigating the Credit Mobilier scandal had completely exoner- 
ated him, but worse was to come. His political foes were many, and 
they let no opportunity pass unimproved to attack him. 

John C. Harrison, one of the Government's directors of the Union 
Pacific Railroad Company, made public a statement that among the 
papers of that company had been found a number of the bonds of the 
Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad, a defunct and bankrupt concern; 
that the bonds had once belonged to Mr. Elaine and had been sold by 
him to the Union Pacific Company at a high price, at a time when the 
latter company knew the issuer of the bonds was bankrupt and the 
bonds wholly worthless. It was a serious charge, as both the Union 
Pacific and the Little Rock roads were objects of the bounty of the 
Government and subject to legislation by Congress. 

As soon as the charge was made public Mr* Elaine obtained letters 
from the several officers of the Union Pacific who had knowledge of the 
purchase of the bonds, declaring in the most positive manner that Mr. 
Elaine had never had any interest direct or remote with the bonds in 
question, and had never benefitted by them in the least degree. Mr. 
Elaine had at one time been engaged in the sale of some of the bonds 
and stock of the Little Rock Road. He had disposed of the bonds and 


stock to some of his friends. They were purchased and paid for at the 
current rates, and Mr. Elaine had made good to them the losses they 
had incurred by the purchase. 

The House Committee on the Judiciary was authorized to make a 
thorough investigation. A man by the name of Fisher and another 
named Mulligan were deeply interested in the pursuit of Mr. Elaine. 
Elaine and Fisher at one time had had some business relations, and 
Fisher held a number of confidential and private letters of Mr. Elaine. 
The man Mulligan was an open and avowed enemy of Mr. Elaine. By 
some means he had come into possession of some of the letters written 
by Mr. Elaine to Fisher. These he threatened to make public. 

Mr. Elaine's friends claimed that from the very beginning of the 
investigation by the Committee on the Judiciary it was evident the 
investigation was to be solely of Mr. Elaine, although his name had not 
been mentioned in the resolution authorizing the investigation. Mr. 
Elaine was himself a witness before the committee, and made oath 
that he had never in any way had any interest in the bonds, or in 
their sale to the Union Pacific, and this statement he backed by a num- 
ber of letters from the officers of the company. Some of the directors 
of the company were also before the committee and testified to the 
same fact. 

Mulligan was in Washington, and it was currently reported intended 
to present to the committee the confidential letters of Fisher. Mr. 
Elaine called upon him at his hotel, and through some means obtained 
the letters. The committee demanded possession of them, which was 
refused by Mr. Elaine. He did submit them to two distinguished 
lawyers, one a Democrat and one a Eepublican. After a thorough 
examination both those distinguished men made a statement that 
there was nothing in the letters relevant to the matter under investi- 
gation by the committee. Mr. Elaine, however, determined to make 
the letters public, and this he intended to do in a dramatic manner, by 
reading them to the House of Representatives. In*the course of his 
remarks Mr. Elaine said : 

Would any gentleman stand up here a,nd tell me that he is willing and ready to 
have his private correspondence scanned over and made public for the last eight 
or ten years? Does it imply guilt? Does it imply wrong-doing? Does it imply 
any sense of weakness that a man will protect his private correspondence? No, 
sir; it is the first instinct to do it, and it is the last outrage upon any man to 
violate it. I am not afraid to show the letters. Thank God Almighty, I am not 
ashamed to show them,. There they are. There is the very original package. 
And with some sense of humiliation, with a mortification I do not pretend to con- 
ceal, with a sense of outrage which I think any man in my position would feel, I 
invite the confidence of 40,000,000 of my countrymen while I read these letters 
at this desk. 

There was another very dramatic scene before the day was over, 
one in which Mr. Elaine certainly came out victorious, putting to con- 


fusion some of his political foes. A certain Josiah Caldwell knew all 
the circumstances of the purchase of the bonds in question. He was 
absent from the country, and the committee had been requested to send 
him a cable asking for his evidence. This was done by the committee, 
and a reply from him had been received, the reply completely exon- 
erating Mr. Blaine. For some reason the fact that this reply had been 
received had been concealed by the committee. Mr. Blaine obtained 
from some source a knowledge of the cable from Mr. Caldwell, and 
that it had been suppressed. In an open session of the House he asked 
Representative Knott, of Kentucky, chairman of the committee, if he 
had cabled Mr. Caldwell, as he had been requested to do, and if any 
reply had been received, when the following colloquy occurred, after 
Mr. Knott had made a statement that he and Judge Hunton, another 
member of the committee, had both endeavored to secure Mr. Cald- 
welFs address in London, and had failed : 

Mr* Blaine. Has the gentleman from Kentucky received a dis- 
patch from Caldwell? 

Mr, Knott. I will explain that directly. 

Mr. Blaine. I want a categorical answer. 

Mr. Knott. I have received a dispatch purporting to be from Mr. 

Mr. Blaine. You did? 

Mr. Knott. How did you know I got it? 

Mr. Blaine. When did you get it? I want the gentleman from Ken- 
tucky to answer when he got it. 

Mr. Knott. Answer my question first. 

Mr. Blaine. I never heard of it until yesterday. 

Mr. Knott. How did you hear it ? 

Mr. Blaine. I heard you got a dispatch last Thursday morning at 
eight o'clock from Josiah Caldwell, completely and absolutely exoner- 
ating me from this charge, and you have suppressed it. I want the 
gentleman to answer* Does the gentleman from Kentucky decline to 

At this stage great applause broke out on the floor of the House and 
in the galleries. For some minutes the Speaker tried in vain to restore 
order. When order was restored, Mr* Blaine continued: "The gen- 
tleman from Kentucky in responding probably, I think, from what he 
said, intended to convey the idea that I had some illegitimate knowl- 
edge of how the dispatch was obtained. I have had no communication 
with Josiah CaldwelL I have no means of knowing from the telegraph 
office whether the dispatch was received. But I tell the gentleman from 
Kentucky that murder will out, and secrets will leak. And I tell the 
gentleman now, and I am prepared to state to this House, that at eight 
o'clock on last Thursday morning, or thereabouts, the gentleman from 
Kentucky received and receipted for a message addressed to him from 


Josiah Caldwell, in London, entirely corroborating 1 and substantiating- 
the statements of Thomas A. Scott which he had just read in the New- 
York papers, and entirely exculpating me from the charge which I am 
bound to believe, from the suppression of that report, that the gentle- 
man is anxious to fasten upon me/' 

Again the House and galleries broke forth in a storm of applause. 
Mr. Elaine was not yet satisfied. He moved to a space in front of the 
clerk's desk and denounced Eepresentative Knott in the most scathing 
terms. Men of all parties and of all shades of opinion agreed that Mr. 
Elaine's vindication was complete. 

This is the incident referred to by Colonel Ingersoll in his famous 
speech at the Republican convention at Cincinnati in 1876, when he 
styled Mr. Elaine a "Plumed Knight." 

Mr. Elaine was an active candidate for the Republican nomination 
for President in 1876. There was some talk of nominating President 
Grant for a third term, but the talk had been negatived by General 
Grant himself. A number of names were under consideration, the 
more prominent ones being Senator Oliver P. Morton, Benjamin Bris- 
tow, of Kentucky, Governor Hartranf t, of Pennsylvania, and Governor 
Hayes, of Ohio. Senator Morton had been the great war Governor of 
Indiana and was then the undisputed leader of his party in the United 
States Senate; Mr. Bristow was Secretary of the Treasury under 
President Grant. The name of Senator Conkling was also discussed. 
The convention was held in Cincinnati. 

CoL Robert G. Ingersoll, then the most noted orator in America, was 
selected to place the name of Mr. Elaine before the Republican conven- 
tion. His speech on that occasion is still regarded as a political classic. 
It has never been surpassed, and equaled only by that of Senator Conk- 
ling, when he nominated General Grant in 1880. The extracts given 
will show the power of the speech of Colonel Ingersoll. He said : 

The Republicans of the United States demand as their leader in the great con- 
test of 1876 a man of intellect, a man of integrity, a man of well-known and ap- 
proved political opinions. They demand a statesman. They demand a reformer 
after as well as before the election. They demand a politician in the highest and 
broadest and best sense of that word. They demand a man acquainted with public 
affairs, with the wants of the people, with not only the requirements of the hour, 
but the demands of the future. They demand a man broad enough to comprehend 
the relations of this Government to the nations of the earth. They demand a man 
well versed in the powers, duties, and prerogatives of each and every department 
of this Government. They demand a man who will sacredly preserve the financial 
honor of the United States one who knows enough to know that the national debt 
must be paid through the prosperity of the people. One who knows enough to 
know that all the financial theories in the world cannot redeem a single dollar. 
One who knows enough to know that all money must be made not by hand, but by 
labor. One who knows that the people of the United States have the industry to 
make the money and the honesty to pay it over just as fast as they make it. The 
Republicans of the United States demand a man who knows that prosperity and 
resumption when they come must come together. When they come they will come 


hand in hand through the golden harvest fields; hand in hand by the whirling 
spindles and the turning wheels; hand in hand by the open furnace doors; hand in 
hand by the flaming forges; hand in hand by the chimneys filled with eager fire 
by the countless sons of toil. This money has got to be dug out of the earth. You 
cannot make it by passing resolutions at a political meeting. The Republicans of 
the United States want a man who knows that this Government should protect 
every citizen at home and abroad; who knows that every government that will not 
defend its defenders and will not protect its protectors is a disgrace to the mass 
of the world. They demand a man who believes in the eternal separation of 
church and the schools. They demand a man whose political reputation is spotless 
as a star, but they do not demand that their candidate shall have a certificate of 
moral character signed by a Confederate Congress. The man who has in full 
habit and rounded measure all of these special qualifications is the present grand 
and gallant leader of the Republican party, James G. Blaine. Our country, crowned 
with the vast and marvelous achievements of its first century, asks for a man 
worthy of its past, prophetic of its future asks for a man who has the audacity 
of genius asks for a man who is the grandest combination of heart, conscience, 
and brains beneath the flag. That man is James G. Blaine. For the Republican 
host, led by that intrepid man, there can be no defeat. This is a grand year a 
year filled with the recollections of the Revolution; filled with proud and tender 
memories of the sacred past; filled with the legends of liberty; a year in which 
the sons of Freedom will drink from the fountains of enthusiasm; a year in which 
the people call for a man who has preserved in Congress what our soldiers won 
upon the field; a year in which we call for the man that has torn from the throat 
of treason the tongue of slander; a man that has snatched the mask of democracy 
from the hideous face of rebellion; a man who, like an intellectual athlete, stood 
in the arena of debate, challenged all comers, and who* up to this moment is a 
total stranger to defeat. Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. 
Blaine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining 
lance full and fair against the brazen forehead of every defamer of his country 
and maligner of his honor. For the Republican party to desert that gallant man 
now is worse than if an army should desert their General on the field of battle. 
James G. Blaine is now, and has been for years, the bearer of the sacred standard 
of the Republic, I call it sacred because no human being can stand beneath its 
folds without becoming and without remaining free. 

Mr. Blaine was easily the leading candidate, but he had incurred the 
displeasure of a number of Republicans, and they gathered around 
Secretary Bristow. Three days before the convention was to meet Mr. 
Blaine, while on his way to church, was prostrated by a sunstroke, and 
for a time it was feared it would be fatal* His opponents in the con- 
vention seized upon this situation, and urged it as a reason for not 
nominating him, as it was regarded as a serious collapse of his physical 
powers that would make him unable to stand the strain of a heated 
campaign. Notwithstanding this Mr* Blaine led on the first six bal- 
lots. His opponents on the seventh ballot rallied to Governor Hayes 
and he received the nomination* 

Mr. Bristow resigned as Secretary of the Treasury and the place 
was given to Senator Lot M. Morrill. This made a vacancy in the 
United States Senate to which Mr* Blaine was promptly appointed by 
the Governor, When the Legislature of Maine met Mr. Blaine was 


elected to complete the unexpired term of Mr. Morrill and for the 
succeeding full term, receiving the votes of Republicans and Demo- 
crats alike. 

In the Senate Mr. Elaine was ardent in his efforts to enlarge our 
trade with the Spanish-American Republics. He urged the establish- 
ment of subsidized lines of steamships to South America, to Brazil par- 
ticularly. He also became much interested in the movement against 
Chinese immigration, a movement then agitating the Pacific States. 
He did not make any set speeches in the Senate, but was active in in- 
terjecting short and pungent remarks in the speeches made by other 
Senators. In 1880 he was again a candidate for the presidential nomi- 
nation. It early became known that a determined effort would be made 
at the convention to give the nomination to General Grant. When the 
convention met in Chicago the excitement was intense throughout the 

Although a number of gentlemen were voted for in the convention, 
it was seen the race would be between General Grant and Mr. Elaine. 
The balloting continued day after day, with but little change until the 
thirty-fifth vote was taken. Through all the balloting one or two 
votes had been cast for General Garfield, of Ohio, and at one time his 
vote had reached seventeen. On the thirty-fifth ballot it suddenly 
jumped to two hundred and fifty. For some time before that it became 
evident that neither General Grant nor Mr. Elaine could be nominated 
and the convention began hunting around for an available candidate. 
The jump of General Garfield displayed which way the tide was set- 
ting, and on the next ballot he was named. 

The campaign that followed was a most exciting one, General Grant, 
himself, taking part in it. The Democrats put out as their ticket 
General Hancock and W, H. English, of Indiana. Until November the 
country was alive with speech-making, such as had not been witnessed 
since the memorable campaign of 1860. Mr, Elaine took an active 
part, visiting several States. The result was the election of General 

The election was hardly over before the eyes of the Republicans 
in all sections turned toward Mr. Elaine as the one man of his party in 
the country to be placed at the head of the Department of State. The 
selection was finally made and Mr. Elaine resigned from the Senate to 
begin his career as a cabinet minister. His efforts while in the House 
and Senate to bring about a better condition of affairs and trade with 
the Spanish-American Republics have already been alluded to. In the 
Cabinet he sought to accomplish the same end. Like John Quincy 
Adams he believed the several American countries should be brought 
into closer relations with each other, believing if that could be done 
wars between them would cease. 


His great idea was to adopt and perfect an American continental 
system. From the very beginning of his cabinet service as Secretary 
of State he undertook to carry his great idea into effect. The United 
States was the leader in wealth and power and in international stand- 
ing. He felt and urged that it should be the friend and adviser of all 
the others, and should offer its friendly services to arbitrate all differ- 
ences which might spring up between any of the others. If this could 
be brought about the natural consequence would be a vast extension of 
our trade with those countries. 

He desired to bring about an assemblage of representatives of all the 
independent governments of the American continents, for the express 
purpose of ensuring peace, and binding all in a greater friendship. 
President Garfield gave his approval to the plan to summon a Pan- 
American conference, and it was in process of being accomplished 
when the President was shot down by an assassin. Secretary Elaine 
also had under consideration inviting England to a conference looking 
to the abrogation or modification of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty. All 
this was lost for the time by the death of President Garfield. 

On his accession to the presidency President Arthur seemed at first 
to be in accord with the views of Mr. Elaine, but when Mr. Elaine was 
succeeded in the Secretaryship by Mr. Frelinghuysen the matter was 
dropped. The invitations to the other countries had been sent out by 
Secretary Elaine before he retired from the Cabinet, but his policies 
were reversed by his successor and the invitations withdrawn. 

In February, 1882, Mr. Elaine made his last public appearance in the 
Hall of the House of Representatives. It was a very solemn occasion. 
He had been invited by Congress to deliver an address on the life and 
death of the lamented Garfield. Who was better qualified among our 
public men for such a duty? He and Mr. Garfield had served long to- 
gether as members of the House ; they had been intimate friends, and 
no one was more attentive at the beside of the stricken President than 
his Secretary of State, In this short sketch only the closing sentences 
of that masterly address can be given. He said : 

Gently, silently, the love of a great people bore the pale sufferer to the longed- 
for healing of the sea, to live or to die as God should will, within sight of its 
heaving billows, within sound of its manifold voices. With wan, fevered face ten- 
derly lifted to the cooling breeze, he looked out wistfully upon the ocean's changing 
wonders; on its far sails whitening in the morning light; on its restless waves 
rolling shoreward to break and die beneath the noonday sun ; on the red clouds of 
evening, arching low to the horizon; on the serene and shining pathway of the 
stars. Let us think that his dying eyes read a mystic meaning which only the 
rapt and parting soul may know. Let us believe that in the silence of the receding 
world he heard the great waves breaking on a farther shore, and felt already upon 
his wasted brow the breath of the eternal morning. 

Having retired from public life Mr. Elaine devoted himself to writ- 
ing of his twenty years in Congress. There was no man in public life 


who was better fitted for such a task, or better able to tell the story of 
Congress during the perilous days of the Civil War, and of those dark 
days when reconstruction was dividing the country, or of the days 
which immediately followed the restoration of the Union by giving to 
the seceding States their rightful place in the Union. It was a great 

Mr. Elaine had been a close observer and an active participant in 
most of the legislation of those days. The result of his labors in writ- 
ing this history was to give to the public an admirable treatise of the 
Congresses in which he served, together with his estimate of some of 
those with whom he served. He told the story without bitterness. A 
criticism may arise that in some particulars he failed by not giving as 
much of the details as was needed to make it a complete history of the 
times. Taken as a whole, however, it is an admirable and valuable 
addition to American political history. 

During his retirement, and while engaged in this great literary 
labor, his name was continually discussed as the logical candidate of 
his party in 1884 for the Presidency. He had kept his finger on the 
public pulse, and no doubt was gratified in seeing the party turning to 
him. He was in somewhat of a different mood from the days before 
when he was openly a candidate for the nomination. His two defeats 
had not soured him, but they had rendered him skeptical as to popular 
favor, although in retirement he was regarded as the real leader of 
his party. If he entered the race it would be to meet President Arthur, 
who was a candidate to succeed himself. Mr. Arthur had gone into 
the presidency under the most distressing circumstances. The wild 
words of Giteau, the assassin of President Garfield, had aroused some 
antagonism to Mr. Arthur, and that feeling still existed in some quar- 
ters. He had given the country an exceptionally prudent and wise 
administration and had thus removed many of the doubts which had 
existed at the time he took the office, and he had grown strong among 
the people. He would also have to meet other aspirants, notably Sena- 
tor Sherman, of Ohio, who, like Mr. Elaine, was a standing aspirant. 

In addition to this there was some opposition to Mr. Elaine mani- 
fested by a faction of the Republican party, based, as they claimed, on 
his attitude toward civil service reform, which at that time was a 
fetich among a numerous class of voters. These opponents had been 
derisively called "Mugwumps" by the Regulars. Mr. Elaine knew of 
this opposition and he hesitated giving his consent to the movement 
in his favor. He had two or three other things to contend with. His 
old quarrel with Mr. Conkling had been intensified by the action of 
President Garfield in making certain New York appointments. It was 
believed by Mr. Conkling and his friends that President Garfield had 
been influenced in the matter of the appointments by Mr, Elaine, his 
Secretary of State. If he should be successful in securing the nomina- 


tion he could not, under existing feelings, expect the ardent support of 
Mr. Conkling, and without such support his success in New York 
would be problematical. He had still another trouble before him. He 
had not been on friendly terms with General Grant for a number of 
years, and the friends of that distinguished citizen were disposed to 
punish Mr. Elaine, although no such disposition existed upon the part 
of the General himself. 

When the convention met it was generally believed Mr. Blaine would 
be nominated without much of a struggle. Such was the result. For 
the first three ballots President Arthur led, but the fourth was con- 
clusive, giving Mr. Blaine 641 votes to 207 for the President, with 
sixty-eight scattering. 

The ticket had hardly been named and the platform adopted than 
the campaign opened at fever heat. General Grant took quite an active 
part, as did Senator Conkling at a later date. On the other hand the 
"Mugwumps*' became equally busy, and the old Mulligan letter scandal 
was revamped to do duty against the man who had dared to read them 
before the House of Representatives in his own defense. Still the out- 
look was favorable to the Republican ticket. He personally canvassed 
several of the States, drawing large and enthusiastic audiences. The 
Democratic ticket was headed by Grover Cleveland, who as the Demo- 
cratic candidate for Governor had lately swept New York. He had as 
his running mate Thomas A. Hendricks, a man of great popularity in 
his own State, which was always regarded as one of the doubtful States 
at each election. 

Unfortunately for himself and his party, only a few days before 
the election was to take place, Mr. Blaine accepted an invitation to at- 
tend a banquet in New York, tendered by a number of the wealthy 
citizens of that place. At that time there was great unrest among the 
laboring classes, and a very strong ill-feeling against the wealthy was 
prevalent. The banquet was eagerly seized upon by the friends of Mr. 
Cleveland, who exploited it among the laboring classes. It cost Mr. 
Blaine several thousand votes. To add to this he was waited upon on 
his arrival in New York by a delegation of clergymen. Their spokes- 
man was a man named Burehard. In his address to Mr. Blaine he 
stated that "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" were arrayed against 
him. It was a foolish phrase, but its folly, coupled with the million- 
aire banquet, kept Mr. Blaine out of the presidency, 

By this time his physical health began to be undermined. He was 
attacked by that dread malady known as Bright's disease. In the hope 
of regaining his old-time physical strength Mr. Blaine visited Europe, 
after completing his "Twenty Years in Congress." He was still cheerful 
and full of hope. His friends looked forward to future success for 
him, and they kept up the agitation for his nomination in 1888. The 
opposition to him had gained some strength, but the general impres- 
sion was that he would be the choice of the convention when it met. 


He wrote from Europe to his friends that he would not be a candi- 
date, but President Cleveland in his message to Congress attacked 
the whole Republican theory of the tariff, and Mr. Elaine thought he 
saw his opportunity. He submitted to an interview in London in 
which he combatted with all his old-time vigor and force the argu- 
ments of the President. He maintained that the President would sac- 
rifice the home market for an illusion. This interview was taken by 
his friends as a practical announcement of his candidacy for the nomi- 
nation, and they rallied to his support. 

However, he refrained from announcing himself as an actual candi- 
date. To one of his intimate friends he wrote: "Ever since the last 
election I have felt that I would not run again unless I should be called 
upon by the practically unanimous judgment and wish of the party. I 
did not expect to receive that unanimity and therefore feel no disap- 
pointment that other candidates are in the field. Should I permit my 
name to go into the convention I would certainly meet Sherman, from 
Ohio ; Harrison, from Indiana, and Hawley, from Connecticut. Now, 
Indiana and Connecticut are two of the States which we must have to 
succeed. I would not run again except upon a cordial unanimous de- 
mand of those States. ... I do not doubt that I could be nominated, 
and if I had not been defeated in 1884 I would undoubtedly go into the 
convention, but having had my chance and lost I do not wish to appear 
as a claimant with the demand Try me again/ " 

Only a few days before the convention was to assemble he wrote to 
another friend: "If I should now, by speech or by silence, by com- 
mission or by omission, permit my name in any event to come before 
the convention, I should incur the reproach of being uncandid with 
those who have always been candid with me. ... I am not willing to 
be the cause of misleading a single man among the millions who have 
given me their suffrages and their confidence. I am not willing that 
even one of my faithful supporters in the past should think me capable 
of paltering in a double sense with my words. Assuming that the presi- 
dential nomination could by any possible chance be offered to me, I 
could not accept it without leaving in the minds of thousands of these 
men the impression that I had not been free from indirection, and 
therefore I could not accept it at all. The misrepresentations of malice 
have no weight with me, but the just displeasure of my friends I could 
not patiently endure." 

During the balloting at the convention it was charged by the friends 
of other candidates that this positive letter of refusal to become the 
candidate of the party had been concealed in the hope that the conven- 
tion when worn out with unsuccessful balloting would turn to Mr. 
Elaine with an unanimity that would force his acceptance. Its exist- 
ence had become known to some of the friends of the other candidates, 
and they forced its publication. This ended the effort to bring about 


the nomination of Mr. Blame. After several ballotings the nomina- 
tion fell to General Benjamin Harrison, of Indiana. 

Mr. Elaine did not sulk in his tent. He returned to America and at 
once became active in the work of the campaign. In the Interest of the 
candidacy of Mr. Harrison he canvassed several States, drawing large 
crowds. In this he increased his popularity with the people and before 
the election they began to talk of him as the logical Secretary of State 
in case the Republican ticket should be successful at the polls. Gen- 
eral Harrison had a great admiration for the talents of Mr, Blaine, but 
there was a feeling of unfriendliness existing between them, having its 
origin in a law suit by Mr. Blaine against a newspaper during the cam- 
paign of 1884, in which General Harrison had appeared as the attor- 
ney for Mr. Blaine. The suit was dismissed at Mr. Elaine's request, 
and some of his friends accused Mr. Harrison of having made public 
a private and confidential letter from his client. It was not true, and 
General Harrison felt that Mr. Blaine ought to have made that fact 

Notwithstanding this feeling Mr. Harrison, soon after his election, 
tendered the State portfolio to Mr. Blaine. He had been out of the 
public service for about seven years, but during that time had closely 
watched the current of events. He now had an opportunity to push his 
favorite theory of a closer relation with the other American govern- 
ments. In that he had the full sympathy and cooperation of the 

Several perplexing matters with other nations came up for solution. 
The German government had assumed an irritating attitude in the 
Samoan Islands. This manner Secretary Blaine took up with his usual 
clearness and force and finally compelled Germany and Great Britain 
to accede to the demands of the United States. 

A few months before his term as President expired Mr. Cleveland 
had invited the independent governments of the two American conti- 
nents to send delegates to a conference to be held in Washington. This 
was in direct line of what Mr. Blaine had attempted to do while Secre- 
tary of State in the administration of President Garfield. 

The invitation was accepted and in October, 1889, the conference 
opened, Secretary Blaine welcoming the delegates in a well-timed and 
eloquent speech. He was chosen to preside over the meetings of the 
conference. Occupying the chair he was still the mainspring of all the 
sessions. The conference lasted for several months. Its results are 
well known. 

During his occupancy of the Department of State under Mr. Harri- 
son there occurred several occasions for friction between the two 
distinguished men, and the Cabinet of President Harrison was not 
always harmonious. The health of Mr. Blaine was breaking down, but 
he kept at work the best he could. He carried on a most voluminous 


correspondence regarding the conflicting claims of the United States 
and Great Britain over the Bering Sea's fisheries. This was one of the 
most annoying questions that had come before o<ur Government in 
many years, and was not finally determined until after several par- 
leys. One of Mr. Elaine's policies was that of reciprocal trade rela- 
tions with other countries, especially with those on the American 

In 1892 Mr. Harrison was a candidate for the nomination to succeed 
himself. As admirable as his administration had been he had estranged 
many of the leaders of his party, especially of that class generally 
called politicians. Those disaffected men begun to talk of Mr. Elaine 
as a candidate. By this time the friction between the Secretary and 
the President had become acute. On the 4th of June, 1892, only a few 
days before the convention was to assemble, Mr. Elaine suddenly sent 
the President a brief note resigning the office of Secretary of State* 
There was not in the note a word of explanation, nor was it couched in 
the usual language of such notes, but was cold and formal in the ex- 
treme. The President accepted the resignation in equally brief and 
cold terms. Mr. Elaine at once let it be known he would accept the 
presidential nomination if given him. President Harrison was re^ 
nominated, but failed of reelection. 

There were some vagaries in the actions and talk of Mr. Elaine at 
this time which led his most intimate friends to believe his mind was 
affected. His vagaries seemed to be confined to imaginary controver- 
sies between himself and the President. On all other subjects he was 
mentally as clear and alert as at any time in his life. On the 27th of 
January, 1893, the end came and James Gillespie Elaine passed from 
earth. President Harrison issued a proclamation announcing the 
death in the following terms : 

To the People of the United States: 

It is my painful duty to announce to the people of the United States the death 
of James Gillespie Blame, which occurred in this city today at 11 o'clock. 

For a full generation this eminent citizen has occupied a conspicuous anid influ- 
ential position in the nation. His first public service was in the Legislature of 
his State, Afterwards, for fourteen years, he was a member of the National 
House of Representatives, and was three times chosen its Speaker. In 1876 he was 
elected to the Senate. He resigned his seat in that body in 1881 to accept the 
position of Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Garfield. After the 
tragic death of his chief he resigned from the Cabinet, and devoted himself to 
literary work, giving to the public in his "Twenty Years in Congress" a most valu- 
able and enduring contribution to our political literature. In March, 1889, he again 
became Secretary of State and continued to exercise this office until June, 1892. 
His devotion to the public interests, his marked ability, and his exalted patriotism 
has won for him the gratitude and affection of his countrymen, and the admira- 
tion of the world. In the varied pursuits of legislation, diplomacy and literature 
his genius has added new luster to American citizenship. 

As a suitable expression of the national appreciation of his great public serv- 
ices and of the general sorrow caused by his death, I direct that on the day of his 


funeral all the departments of the executive branch of the Government at Wash- 
ington be closed, and that on all public buildings throughout the United States 
the national flag shall be displayed at half staff, and that for a period of thirty 
days the Department of State be draped in mourning. 

In every situation of life Mr. Elaine served manfully and well. Al- 
though a partisan, and one willing to take advantage of every oppor- 
tunity to aid his party, his actions during the six sessions of the House 
in which he presided as Speaker and his rulings were eminently fair 
and just. He possessed a wonderful memory for names and faces, and 
this aided him materially in his political aspirations. As Secretary of 
State he was first, last, and all the time an American, filled with a 
sublime faith that the United States was to continue as the leading ex- 
ponent of the rights of the people to govern themselves and of their 
ability to govern themselves. 

In his autobiography the late Senator George F, Hoar has this to 
say of Mr. Elaine ; 

I entered the House of Representatives of the United States at the spring- ses- 
sion which began March 4, 1869, at the beginning of Grant's administration. It 
then contained a very interesting and important group of men, the most brilliant 
and conspicuous of whom was, undoubtedly, Mr. James G Elaine. The public, 
friends and foes, judged of him by a few striking and picturesque qualities. There 
has probably never been a man in our history upon whom so few people looked 
with indifference. He was born to be loved or hated. Nobody occupied a middle 
ground as to him. In addition to the striking qualities which caught the public 
eye, he was a man of profound knowledge of our political history, of a sure lit- 
erary taste, and of great capacity as an orator. He studied and worked out for 
himself very abstruse questions on which he formed his own opinions, usually 
with great sagacity. How far he was affected in his position by the desire for 
public favor I will not undertake to say. I think the constitution of his mind 
was such that matters wore apt to strike him in much the same way as they were 
apt to strike the majority of the people of the North, especially of the Northwest, 
where he was always exceedingly popular. He maintained very friendly personal 
relations with some of the more intelligent Southerners, especially Lamar. 

In another part of his autobiography the distinguished Senator from 
Massachusetts thus characterizes Mr. Elaine : 

James G. Blaine was a man of many faults and many infirmities. But his life 
is a part of the history of his country. It will be better for his reputation that 

the chapter of that history which relates to him shall be written by a historian 
with a full and clear sense of those faults and infirmities, concealing nothing, and 
extenuating nothing. But also let him set nought down in malice. Mr. Blaine 
was a brilliant and able man, lovable, patriotic, far-seeing, kind. He acted in a 
great way under great responsibilities. He was wise and prudent when wisdom 
and prudence were demanded. If he had attained to the supreme object of his 
ambition and reached the goal of the Presidency, if his life had been spared to 
complete his term, it would have been, a most honorable period, in my opinion, in 
the history of the country. No man has lived in this country since Daniel Web- 
ster died, save McKinley alone, who had so large a number of devoted friends and 
admirers in all parts of the country. 



MICHAEL CRAWFORD KERB Speaker of the House of Representa- 
tives in the Forty-fourth Congress. Born near Titusville, Penn- 
sylvania, March 23, 1827. Educated at Erie Academy and Louisville 
University. Died at Rockbridge Alum Springs, Virginia, August 19, 

Michael C. Kerr was one of the most amiable, the most just, of men 
in all the walks of life. As a legislator he was wise and prudent, with- 
out prejudice; as a presiding officer of the House of Representatives, 
he was dignified, amiable, yet firm, giving his rulings quickly, yet 
always without partisanship. He made six campaigns for a seat in 
the House of Representatives and won five of them. In the race he 
lost he was a candidate for the State at laxge, and in a vote of more 
than 300,000, he was defeated by 162 votes. 

At the age of eighteen Mr. Kerr was graduated from the Erie Acad- 
emy. Soon after leaving the Academy he married and removed from 
Pennsylvania to Kentucky, where he engaged in teaching for a short 
time. While thus engaged he gave his leisure hours to the study of. 
law, mingling with that study a careful research of political economy. 
His time given to the study of political economy was fruitful in fitting 
him for the high positions he later was called upon to fill, for during 
his ten years in Congress he met few who were as equally well versed 
in that science, and to that was due much of the influence he wielded 
among the national legislators, and especially with the members of his 
own political party. 

Giving up teaching, he attended the Louisville University, perfect- 
ing himself in the knowledge of law. In 1852 he received from the 
University the degree of Bachelor of Laws, and chose New Albany, 
Indiana, as his future home. In a very few months he impressed himself 
so greatly on the people of that thriving little city that he was elected 
City Attorney, and the next year was made Prosecuting Attorney for 
the Circuit Court. His amiability and uprightness of character won 
for him the respect of the people, and in 1856, when he had been a 
resident of the county only four years, he was sent to represent the 
county in the Legislature of the State, There he soon made his mark 
with the leaders of his party. He was a Democrat, holding to the 
principles of the party founded by Jefferson. His policy, as he later 
said of himself, was to "legislate in the interests of the people as a 
whole; to make life and liberty more easy and free." 

The Republicans won in Indiana in the campaign of 1860. Among 
those elected to office that year was Benjamin Harrison, afterward 
President of the United States. He was elected to the office of Re- 
porter of the Decisions of the Supreme Court, perhaps at that time the 


most lucrative office in the State. The war came and Mr. Harrison 
went to the front at the head of a regiment. His term of office was 
for four years, and would not expire by law until 1865, but it was held 
by the Democrats that having accepted a commission as Colonel in the 
army, Mr. Harrison had voluntarily vacated the office of Reporter of 
the Supreme Court. In accordance with that they nominated a can- 
didate for that position, the candidate being Mr. Kerr. The Repub- 
licans did not take the same view, holding that Mr. Harrison having 
been elected for four years he was entitled to that office, though he 
administered it by a deputy, and made no nomination for the claimed 
vacancy. Mr, Kerr was declared elected, and served the remaining 
two years of the term. In 1864 General Harrison was again nominated 
by the Republicans, Mr. Kerr declining the nomination by his party. 
In the election Mr. Harrison was successful. 

Having declined the nomination for the State office, Mr. Kerr an- 
nounced himself as a candidate before his party for the congressional 
nomination, which he received, and was duly elected a member of the 
House of Representatives. It was just as the Civil War was closing 
and the era of reconstruction beginning. His attitude during the war 
was always that of a patriot. In his book of "Reminiscences," William 
Wesley Woolen gives this account of Mr. Kerr's first nomination for 
Congress : 

In 1864 he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress, the 
late <3olonel Cyrus L. Dunham being his principal competitor. The nominating 
convention met at Jeffersonville, in the old Methodist church on Wall street. 
Politics was at fever heat, and the contest between Mr. Kerr and Colonel Dunham 
was very close. An hour or so before the convention was to meet Mr. Kerr called 
a caucus of his friends. . . . The gentlemen thus called together supposed the 
purpose of the meeting was to make arrangements for the management of the 
convention. When all were seated Mr. Kerr arose, drew himself up to his full 
heighth of six feet or more, and with suppressed excitement, but with perfect 
self-control, said he must withdraw from the race for Congress; that he was in 
possession of the knowledge that a conspiracy existed against the government of 
the State; that the conspirators were Democrats; that he felt it his duty to go to 
Indianapolis and lay the facts before Governor Morton; that such a course would 
embitter certain Democrats and jeopardize his election should he be a candidate, 
Mr. English and others made remarks after Mr. Kerr had taken his seat, the pur- 
port of which was that he was right in his purpose to make known and denounce 
the conspiracy, but wrong in determining to withdraw from the contest; that only 
a few hot-heads had gone wrong; that the great body of the party was loyal to the 
Government, Mr. Kerr persisted in his purpose to decline, and it was formally 
announced that he was no longer a candidate. Afterward, however, several gen- 
tlemen were sent to him by the various county delegations, who urged him to 
stand. He finally consented to do so, and was nominated. 

As soon as the nominating convention adjourned Mr. Kerr took the 
train and went to Indianapolis. There he met one of his friends, one 
who was classed as among the leaders of his party. He told him what 
his mission to the city was. Together they called on Joseph B. Me- 


Donald, afterward a distinguished member of the United States Sen- 
ate. It was late at night, but they were so impressed by the danger 
of a civil war in the State that they called Mr. McDonald from his bed 
and laid the matter before him. A meeting of the leading Democrats 
was called for the next morning, when Mr. Kerr made a most impres- 
sive speech, telling them the whole thing had to be stopped, and 
stopped at once. It was stopped. 

Mr. Kerr took his seat in the Thirty-ninth Congress. It was a tur- 
bulent session. Reconstruction was the main question before Con- 
gress and before the people. President Lincoln had been assassinated 
and Andrew Johnson was occupying that high office. Among the Re- 
publicans were many radicals, who insisted upon the most severe 
treatment of the States lately in rebellion against the Government 
Mr. Kerr was conservative. He took the view of the late President 
Lincoln, that the sooner all the States were brought back to their 
proper place in the Union the better it would be for the whole country. 
In his first term he did not push himself forward, nor make any ex- 
tended speeches. He was content to learn. He was ambitious and 
readily learned the duties of a national legislator and the methods of 
procedure in the House. 

He was three times reelected, increasing his prestige with the 
other members and his influence in the party councils. Before the close 
of his third term he was one of the most influential of the Democratic 
members, and by his modest demeanor and his clear-headed reasoning 
reached high popularity among the Republicans. Mr. Kerr was always 
firm in whatever stand he took, but never obstinate. In his speeches 
he was clear in his statement, logical in his presentation of his views, 
but never bitter. As one writer said of him: "Mr. Kerr was not a 
pleasant speaker. He was too honest and conscientious to stand be- 
fore an audience and troll off something he thought every intelligent 
man knew as well as himself. Although possessed of ambition, he was 
exceedingly modest, and a modest man rarely becomes an attractive 
extemporaneous speaker/' 

By the time the Forty-second Congress closed its sessions Mr. Kerr 
was one of the most popular of its members, and it was believed he 
had a long life of usefulness before him, and it was confidently be- 
lieved he would again be returned to the House. The census of 1870 
and the apportionment under it gave Indiana two additional members 
of the House. The State Legislature had failed to* redistrict the State, 
so the two additional members had to be elected by the State at large* 
Mr. Kerr was nominated by the Democrats for one of the additional- 
seats. It was the campaign when the Democrats had nominated 
Horace Greeley for President against General Grant, and the party 
was not harmonious, yet Mr. Kerr was defeated by less than two hun- 
dred votes. 


In 1874 the party In his district nominated him again for a seat in 
the House, and this time he triumphed by a very decided majority. 
In this campaign Mr. Kerr overtaxed his physical strength, and he was 
compelled to rest for some time to recuperate. He spent several 
months in the mountains of Colorado in an effort to regain his 
strength. He did not fully recover, but was able to take his seat at the 
opening of the Forty-fourth Congress. Before his defeat for the Forty- 
third Congress he had been talked about as the best available in his 
party for the Speakership, and when it was known that his party 
would have a majority in the House in the Forty-fourth Congress, it 
was generally conceded he would be the candidate for Speaker. Mr. 
Elaine had served in that position for the three preceding Congresses 
and was again a candidate. The result of the election was an easy 
triumph for Mr. Kerr. On taking his seat Mr. Kerr, among other 
things, said; "I shall, doubtless, many times need your patient in- 
dulgence. I pray that you will grant it ; and, with nothing but kindly 
feelings toward every member of the House, I promise that in all my 
official acts I will divest myself, to the utmost of my ability, of all 
personal bias." This he did in the short time he was to preside over 
the deliberations of the House. 

Mr. Kerr was never well a day after he was elected Speaker. The 
disease which had manifested itself during the labors of the campaign 
the year before was still fastened upon him. As long as he was able 
to drag himself to the Capitol he presided over the House, but his 
friends felt the end would soon come. It did. He went to the Rock- 
bridge Alum Springs, in West Virginia. At first the water seemed to 
benefit him, but presently the disease turned for the worse. On the 
afternoon of August 15 he telegraphed to a friend that his condition 
was very critical This dispatch was read to the House, Representa- 
tive Banks, of Massachusetts, took the floor and offered the following 

Resolved, That the House of Representatives, at the moment of closing the 
present session, tenders to Hon. Michael C. Kerr, its beloved and honored presid- 
ing 1 officer, the unanimous expression of the heartfelt sympathy of its members 
in his affliction, and they hope that the recovery of his health may soon restore 
to his associates in the public service the wisdom of his counsel and the beneficent 
influence of his example. 

The resolution was sent to Speaker Kerr and reached him only a 
short time before he breathed his last. His remains were taken to his 
old home at New Albany, accompanied by a committee composed of 
Representatives and Senators. There they were buried in the midst 
of the people he loved and who loved him, and had so often given him 
an evidence of their appreciation by electing" him to high offices. 

When Congress met again several eloquent memorial speeches were 
made both in the House and in the Senate, At that time Indiana was 


represented in the Senate by Joseph E. McDonald, a Democrat, and 
Oliver P. Morton, a Republican. Senator Morton was Governor of the 
State at the time the conspiracy to overthrow the State government 
existed the conspiracy thwarted by the threatened exposure of Mr. 
Kerr at the time he was first a candidate for the House, and who knew 
of the activities of Mr. Kerr at that time. In this brief sketch only a 
part of what Senator Morton said in the Senate on the day of the 
memorial exercises can be given. He said : 

His name will be remembered with pride and with affection in Indiana. He 
was one of her most highly favored and gifted sons, and it gives me satisfaction 
to bear testimony to Ms patriotism. I believe he was a devout lover of his coun- 
try, and went for that which he believed was for the best. I have always given 
him credit for his integrity, and for his patriotism, and for love of his country, 
and the strongest testimony I can bear to the character of Mr. Kerr is to say that 
he was regarded by men of all parties in Indiana as an honest man, an able man, 
a patriotic man, and that his death was mourned by all his neighbors and by all 
who knew him, without distinction of party. 

On the same occasion Senator McDonald bore this testimony to the 
worth of the late Speaker of the House: 

He filled every station to which he was called, public and private, with honor. 
He honored the city in which he lived, and his name is there cherished as a house- 
hold word. He honored the district which had conferred upon him its highest 
favor, and his memory will be long held in reverence by his people. He honored 
the State of his adoption, and it will preserve his name upon the roll of its most 
illustrious citizens. He honored the high place to which he was called by the 
representatives of the whole people, and for that we this day place his name "in 
memorium" upon the records of the Congress of the nation, there to remain for 
all time. 

The last days of this illustrious man and patriot were embittered by 
a cruel and malicious attack upon his honor as a legislator and as a 
man. A lobbyist in Washington by the name of Harney charged that 
he had paid, on an occasion some years previously, a large sum of 
money to Mr. Kerr to procure the appointment to a position in the 
army for a client. This charge was made shortly after Mr. Kerr had 
been elected Speaker, and not long before his death. At the request 
of Mr. Kerr a committee was appointed to investigate the charge. A 
hearing was held and the matter thoroughly sifted. The committee 
closed its exhaustive report as follows : 

Your committee has found no difficulty in reaching the conclusion that the 
charge, as made by Harney, as to the payment of the amount of money stated, 
or any other sum, to Mr. Kerr for the purpose and object named, is unqualifiedly 
false; that Mr. Kerr stands fully exonerated from all implication in anywise 
affecting his personal honor or official integrity. Your committee finds nothing 
throughout the whole progress of this investigation to impair or detract from the 
well-established reputation that he enjoys for unquestioned personal integrity and 
unsullied purity of official record. 


When this report was presented to the House an unparalleled scene 
followed. Several members made short speeches on the question of 
concurring in the report, and then the previous question was ordered. 
General Garfield, then a member of the House, asked that the adoption 
of the report be by a rising vote, which was ordered. Every member 
promptly rose to his feet when the ayes were called for. Representa- 
tive Banks, of Massachusetts, then asked that a count should be had 
in order to make a permanent record that the report received the 
unanimous concurrence of the House. That was done and the record 
made that the report was concurred in by a vote of 210 yeas, nays 

Never was a public man more completely vindicated than was Mr. 
Kerr. One of the members of the House in speaking of the charge 
and the report said: "The long record of an honorable life outweighs 
all charges of those loose defamers whom these base times encourage 
to detraction and scandal." 

William Wesley Woollen in his "Reminiscences" thus characterizes 
Mr. Kerr: "Mr. Kerr lived and died a poor man. With opportunities 
to make money possessed by few, he chose to do that which was right, 
preferring a good name to great riches. On his dying bed he 
said to his son and only child : 'I have nothing to leave you, my son, 
except my good name. Guard it and your mother's honor, and live as 
I have lived. Pay all my debts, if my estate will warrant it without 
leaving your mother penniless. Otherwise pay what you can, and then 
go to my creditors and tell them the truth, and pledge your honor to 
wipe out the indebtedness/ " 


SAMUEL SULLIVAN Cox Speaker of the House of Representatives in 
the Forty-fourth Congress, Born at Zanesville, Ohio, September 
80, 1824, Son of Ezekiel Taylor and Maria Matilda (Sullivan) Cox. 
Educated at Ohio University at Athens, Ohio, and Brown University, 
Providence, Rhode Island* Married Miss Julia Buckingham. Died in 
New York City, September 10, 1889. 

Samuel Sullivan, or as he was better known, SunSet Cox, was one of 
the most interesting figures ever found in the American Congress. He 
had the unique history of having served several terms in the House of 
Representatives from the State of Ohio, and then serving a number of 
terms representing a district in New York City. 

Having graduated from Brown University, he studied law and was 
admitted to the bar in his home city. He readily commanded a fair 
practice, but his tendency was literary and he became editor of the 
Ohio Statesman, one of the leading Democratic papers of the State at 


that time. As a political writer he quickly became known to his 
chosen party throughout the State, his fame extending beyond the 
borders of the State. He traveled extensively through Europe, making 
a study of the political, financial, and social conditions of the various 
countries visited. Returing home he gave to the public the results of 
his rambling in a delightful book called "A Buckeye Abroad." In 
1853 President Franklin Pierce offered him the position of Secretary 
of Legation at London, but Mr. Cox declined the offer. Later he ac- 
cepted the same position at Lima, Peru. This would give him an 
opportunity to study the Latin countries in South America, On his 
way to his appointed station he was taken sick at Panama and returned 

He was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth, Thirty-sixth, Thir- 
ty-seventh, and Thirty-eighth Congresses from his Ohio District, serv- 
ing from March 4, 1857, to 4, 1865. He entered Congress at a 
strenuous time. Slavery was the agitating subject, and the country 
was torn over the proposed admission of Kansas as a State in the 
Union. Riotous and bloody scenes were enacted in that distressed Ter- 
ritory, and party divisions were playing havoc with political ambitions 
in every section. He was a Democrat, but was not in sympathy with 
the administration of President Buchanan regarding Kansas. The 
first speech he made after entering Congress was a bold announcement 
of the position he intended to take. It was made December 10, 1857, 
and, by the way, was the first speech delivered in the new Hall of the 
House, which had just been completed and occupied* In that speech 
he said : 

"I propose now to nail against the door, at the threshold of this 
Congress, my theses. When the proper time comes I will defend them, 
whether from the assaults of political friend or foe, I would fain be 
silent, sir, here and now. But silence, which is said to be as 'harmless 
as a rose's breath/ may be as perilous as a pestilence. This peril 
comes from the attempt to forego the capital principle of Democratic 
policy, which .1 think has been done by the constitutional convention of 
Kansas. I maintain: (1) That the highest refinement and greatest 
utility of Democratic policy the genius of our institutions is the 
right of self-government. (2) That this self-government means the 
will of the majority legally expressed. (3) That this self -government 
and majority rule were sacredly guaranteed in the organic act of Kan- 
sas. (4) That it was guaranteed upon the question of slavery in 
term ; and generally with respect to all the domestic institutions of the 
people. (5) That domestic institutions mean all which are local, not 
national State, not Federal. It means that and that only that al- 
ways. (6) That the people were to be left perfectly free to establish or 
abolish slavery, as well as to form and regulate their other institutions. 


That the doctrine was recognized in every part of the Confederacy by 
the Democracy; fixed in their national platform; asserted by their 
speakers and presses ; reiterated by their candidates ; incorporated in 
messages and instructions ; and formed the feature which distinguished 
the Democracy from its opponents, who maintained the doctrine of 
Congressional intervention. (8) The Lecompton constitution, while it 
is asserted it is submitted to the people in the essential point, thus rec- 
ognizing an obligation to submit it in some mode, cannot, in any event, 
be rejected by the people of Kansas, The vote must be for its ap- 
proval, whether the voter votes one way or another. The people may 
be unwilling to take either of the propositions, yet must vote one or the 
other of them. They have to vote 'constitution with slavery/ or 'con- 
stitution with no slavery' ; but the constitution they must take/' 

Those points were elaborated by Mr. Cox during the later discus- 
sion, he insisting at all times that the people of Kansas must be left 
absolutely free in their choice. He afterward voted to admit Kansas 
under a free constitution. During his service in those Congresses he 
took part in nearly all major discussions. He had at his command a 
fund of good-natured ridicule and humor, and frequently gave free 
way to this propensity. He was also fond of making classical allusions 
in his speeches, and to quote from some of the great poets of ancient 
and modern days. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Speaker of 
the House in the Thirty-eighth and Thirty-ninth Congresses against 
Schuyler Coif ax. He was defeated for reelection to the Thirty-ninth 
Congress. The war between the States brought many changes in offi- 
cial life* Mr. Cox was a Democrat, and while deploring the agitation 
which finally brought the country to a state of war, he supported the 
administration of President Lincoln in his efforts to save the Union. 

Having been defeated for reelection, he devoted himself to the prepa- 
ration of the story of his eight years in Congress. He was still ambi- 
tious for a public life, and realising that Ohio was firmly fixed in the 
Republican column he removed to New York City in 1868 and began 
the practice of law, devoting much time, however, to literary pursuits. 
He made another tour of Europe, gathering more information to be of 
use to him in his after career. In 1870 he defeated Horace Greeley, the 
great editor, for Congress and once more took his seat in the House 
of Representatives. He had been the unsuccessful candidate of the 
Democrats and Liberal Republicans, but later was elected to fill a 
vacancy in the same Congress, He served from December 1, 1878, to 
March 4, 1885. He was appointed Minister to Turkey by President 
Cleveland, On his return he was again elected to Congress and served 
until his death in 1899* One of his best-remembered speeches during 
his long service in the House was the eulogy he pronounced on his 
friend, Senator Douglas, Among other things he said : 


"Some have lamented his death now as untimely and unfortunate for 
his own fame, since it has happened just at the moment when the poli- 
tician is lost in the patriot, and when he had a chance to atone for past 
error by new devotion. Mr. Speaker, men do not change their nature 
so easily. The Douglas of 1861 was the Douglas of 1850, 1854, and 
1858. The patriot who denounced this great rebellion was the patriot 
in every fold and lineament of his character. There is not a page of 
his history that we can afford to blot out. The words which escaped 
him in the delirium of his last days when he heard the 'battle afar 
off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting* were the key-note 
to a harmonious life. . . * History will be false to her trust if she does 
not write that Stephen A. Douglas was a patriot of matchless purity, 
and a statesman who, foreseeing and warning, tried his utmost to avert 
the dangers which are now so hard to repress. Nor will she permit 
those who now praise his last great effort for the Union to qualify it 
by sinister reflections upon his former conduct ; for thus they tarnish 
the lustre of a life devoted, in peace and in war, to the preservation 
of the Union. His fame never had an eclipse. Its disk has been ever 
bright to the eye of history. It sank below the horizon, like the sun 
of the Morea, full-orbed and in the full blaze of its splendor. How 
much we shall miss him here ! How can we, his associates, do without 
his counsel? No longer does the murmur go 'round that Douglas is 
speaking in the Senate ; no longer does the House become quorumless to 
listen to his voice! His death is like the dissolution of a political or- 
ganism. Indeed, we could better afford to lose a sphere of stars from 
our flag; for those might wander to return. But Douglas cannot be 
brought back to us. ... Who is left to take his place? Alas! he has no 

He served in the House for a quarter of a century, and during all 
that time was the genial friend of all his colleagues. He was better 
known as "Sun Set Cox" than by his baptisimal name. This sobriquet 
came from a description of a sunset he witnessed in one of his jour- 
neys through Europe. It is worthy a place here: 

"What a stormful sunset that was of last night! How glorious the 
storm, and how splendid the setting of the sun! We do not remember 
ever before to have seen the like on our round globe. The scene opened 
in the West with a whole horizon full of a golden interpenetrating 
luster which colored the foliage and brightened every object into its 
own rich dyes. The colors grew deeper and richer until the golden 
luster was transfused into a storm cloud, full of finest lightning, which 
leaped into dazzling zigzags all 'round and over the city. The wind 
arose with fury, the slender shrubs and giant trees made obeisance to 
its majesty. Some even snapped before its force. The strawberry 
beds and grass plots 'turned up their whites' to see Zephyrus march 


by. As the rain came, and the pools formed, and the gutters hurried 
away, thunder roared grandly, and the fire bells caught the excitement 
and rang with hearty chorus. The South and East received the copious 
showers, and the West all at once brightened in a long, polished belt 
of azure, worthy of a Sicilian sky. 

"Presently a cloud appeared in the azure belt in the form of a cas- 
tellated city. It became more vivid, revealing strange forms of peer- 
less fanes and alabaster temples, and glories rare and grand in this 
mundane sphere, reminding us of Woodsworth/s splendid verse in his 
'Excursion' : 

" 'The appearance spontaneously disclosed 
Was of a mighty city, boldly say 
A Wilderness of buildings, sinking far 
And self -withdrawn into a wondrous depth 
Far sinking into splendor without end.' 

"But the city vanished, only to give place to another isle, where the 
most beautiful forms of foliage appeared, imaging a Paradise in the 
distant and purified air. 

"The sun, wearied of the elemental commotion, sank behind the 
green plains of the West. The 'great eye in Heaven/ however, went 
not down without a dark brow hanging over its departing light. The 
rich flush of the unearthly light had passed and the rain had ceased; 
when the solemn church bells pealed, the laughter of children out and 
joyous after the storm is heard with carol of birds, while the forked 
and purple weapon of the skies still darted illumination around Star- 
ling College, trying to rival its angles and leap into its dark windows. 

"Candles are lighted* The piano strikes up. We feel it is good to 
have a home ; good to be on the earth where such revelations of beauty 
and power may be made. And as we cannot refrain from reminding 
our readers of everything wonderful in our city, we have begun and 
ended our feeble etching of a sunset which comes so rarely that its 
glory should be committed to immortal type." 

He was appointed Speaker pro tern on June 7, 1876, to serve on 
account of the absence of Speaker Michael C, Kerr, and was elected 
Speaker on the 19th of that month to fill the vacancy occasioned by 
the death of Mr. Kerr* He served during the few remaining days of 
the session. 

Mr. Cox; engaged in the discussion of every important question 
which came before the House during his thirty-two years of service. 
He was an able speaker, and was always given an attentive hearing 
by his colleagues. One of his colleagues thus spoke of him at the 
memorial service in the House: 

"Samuel S. Cox, gentle and kind of heart, forgiving and merciful, 
who never heard, unmoved, a cry of distress, with that great multitude 


who*, with pure hearts and lives devoted to the happiness of mankind, 
the alleviation of human misery, ascend from our globe to the realm 
of the immortals, will rejoice in the imperishable love and affection, 
which began in this lower world and will find supreme happiness in 
learning, with every cycle of the countless ages, more and more, some- 
thing of the nature of the infinite universe and of the attributes of the 
merciful and ever-living Father of us all." 

Another of his colleagues thus characterized him : 
"He was democratic in a sense so high, broad, and deep that it knew 
no confines. He loved his party for its principles, and his principles 
he subordinated to no expediency. The secret, in part, of his great 
success was, in my opinion, due to high and noble motives, persistency, 
and independence in pursuing the object in view, and the intense con- 
centration of a brilliant and fully equipped mind, and magnetic and 
pleasing personality in the one thing to be done at the particular 


O AMUEL JACKSON RANDALL Speaker of the House of -Representa- 
O tives in the Forty-fourth, Forty-fifth, and Forty-sixth Congresses. 
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 10, 1828. Son of Josiah 
and Ann (Worrell) Randall. Educated at the Academy of the Univer- 
sity of Pennsylvania. Married Miss Ward. Died in Washington City, 
April 13, 1890. 

When the Thirty-eighth Congress met, on the first Monday in De- 
cember, 1863, among the members of the House of Representatives 
who lined up in front of the Speaker's desk to take the oath was a 
young man from one of the Philadelphia districts who was destined 
to play a great and important part in the political and legislative 
annals of the country, and to occupy a prominent place in its history, 
and who, on one memorable occasion, by his firmness, courage, and 
exalted patriotism saved the Government from chaos and the country 
from possible ruin. 

That young man was Samuel Jackson Randall, who was successively 
elected a member of the House of Representatives fourteen times, the 
last two elections being unanimous. He was three times elected 
Speaker of the House, which he ruled and guided with a firmness that 
made him one of the ablest presiding officers that body has ever had. 
He was a great man, a great statesman, a great American. 

Mr. Randall was born in Philadelphia, the city that witnessed the 
signing of the immortal Declaration, which told the world that a new 
nation was born, and where those patriots and statesmen assembled 
in 1787 and formulated a "government of the people, for the people 
and by the people" that was to carry a blessing to the oppressed of 


other lands. The story of that Declaration, and of that Constitution, 
no doubt, were made familiar to his ears in the days of his boyhood, 
acting as an inspiration through all his after years. 

His father was one of the most prominent lawyers of the city, held 
in high esteem by his fellows. He was active in politics, but never 
seeking office. He was a Whig of the Henry Clay school, supporting 
and advocating the theories of government promulgated by the great 
Kentuckian. He was an ardent supporter of Clay's "American sys- 
tem," that system which sought to build up and encourage American 
industries by protecting them through the means of tariff regulations 
from foreign competition. He trained his son up to the same ardent 
belief, and the son never departed from the training, but ever stood 
as the champion of protection. 

It is highly probable that the father hoped his son would follow in 
his footsteps and take his place at the bar, but it was not to be. He 
preferred a mercantile career, and after leaving the Academy he en- 
tered the counting-room of a local silk merchant. It is highly probable 
that he there displayed qualities which promised success, for he re- 
mained with the merchant for several years. He grew tired after 
a time of working for others, and entered into business on his own 
account as a coal dealer. 

He became interested in political matters. Like his father, he was 
a Whig. He became very active in the local affairs of the city, and in 
1852 was elected a member of the Common Council. This was the 
year when the race for President was between General Scott and 
Frank Pierce. Young Randall was an enthusiastic supporter of the 
hero of Lundy's Lane, and it was a sore disappointment to him when 
his hero was disastrously defeated. The campaign of 1852 was the 
final death blow to the Whig party, and two years later a new party 
was formed. Politically young Randall was an orphan. His Whig 
training had been too deep to be easily thrown off; the Democratic 
party, as a party, was opposed to Randall's pet belief as to the tariff ; 
it was the supporter of slavery, an institution in which he did not be- 
lieve, but which he held ought not be disturbed in the States where it 
existed. The new party was one with Mm so for as the tariff was con- 
cerned, but its hostility to slavery was too intense to suit his views. 
He finally landed in the Democratic ranks. It is possible that the nomi- 
nation of James Buchanan, a fellow-Pennsylvanian, and a man who 
had been on terms of warm friendship with Ms family, had much to 
do with his uniting with the Democrats. Whatever the motive, what- 
ever the influence, he became a Democrat, lived and died as a Demo- 
crat in all else but as to tariff legislation. On that question he ever 
sided and voted with the Republicans. 

He was not an orator, and did not take part in the speaking cam- 
paign for Buchanan, but became active in organization work. In that 


class of work he displayed remarkable efficiency. He knew how to 
organize; knew how to direct; how to get the most efficient work out 
of men. He was a successful business man, and his success in that 
direction may have had some influence in attracting the attention of 
his fellow-citizens to him as a possible legislator. In 1858 he was 
elected to the State Senate, and became almost at once the leader in 
that body. He was a master of details and displayed a thorough 
knowledge of the affairs of the State, and he suggested several reforms 
in the administration. 

In 1860 he supported Douglas in preference to Breckinridge, but 
did not take a very active part in the campaign. He loved the Union, 
and vehemently protested against the threats of disunion indulged in 
by the adherents of the Kentuckian. When the war between the States 
came, after the election of President Lincoln, he emphasized his love 
for the Union by enlisting under the first call of President Lincoln. In 
Philadelphia at that time was a troop of cavalry dating, in its organi- 
zation, back to the days of the war for independence. Mr. Randall 
was a sergeant in the First Troop, and was mustered into the service 
of the United States on the 13th of May, 1861. The troop was placed 
under the command of Col. George H. Thomas, who later became the 
hero of Chickamauga, Under his command the troop took part in the 
battle of Falling Waters and was the first to enter Martinsburg. They 
served the three months of the enlistment and were mustered out. 

This was not the last of his service, however. He did not immedi- 
ately return to the army, but gave attention to his private business 
and to work for the relief of the soldiers or their families. When 
Pennsylvania was invaded by Lee in 1863, the Troop was reorganized 
and Mr. Randall was made Captain. They were ordered to Gettys- 
burg, but were driven back. The Troop was under State authority, 
and under that authority took part in the Gettysburg campaign. 

Mr. Randall returned to Philadelphia after the retreat of Lee, and 
was nominated for Congress from the First Pennsylvania district. His 
election speedily followed. He took his seat in the Thirty-eighth Con- 
gress. It was at a strenuous time. It is true that the victories of the 
Union armies at Gettysburg and Vicksburg gaye promise of the final 
and complete overthrow of the Southern Confederacy, yet the days 
were dark. There was much opposition to the war in the North; 
finances were in bad condition ; complications with some of the nations 
of Europe were threatening. Mr. Randall entered upon the work be- 
fore him with a devout and earnest purpose to aid all he could to save 
the Union. He did not endorse the emancipation, and objected to the 
opening of the ranks of the army to the colored race, yet in all else he 
supported President Lincoln. Like Lincoln, he had but one purpose 
in view saving the Union. 

Mr. Randall did not take much part in the debates during his first 


years in Congress. He was not an orator in the common acceptation 
of the term, but he developed into a very forcible debater. He ad- 
vanced among his colleagues, but it was because of his devotion to 
duty, rather than because of his powers as a speaker. What speeches 
he did make were brief and pointed, generally filled with facts and 
figures he had patiently and intelligently gathered up. 

He was a Democrat, and by many regarded as a strong partisan. 
He was a Democrat in all things but on the question of a tariff, but 
he was not always partisan. One instance of his .breaking away from 
partisanship has been often cited. A bill was pending authorizing 
the President to appoint a lieutenant-general of the armies, A major- 
ity of the Democrats in the House were opposed to it, for it was gen- 
erally known that if the bill became a law, the new rank would be 
given to Grant, while McClellan was the favorite of the Democrats. 
Mr. Randall would not follow his party in this, but earnestly gave his 
support to the bill. This by no means was the only example of his 

In the days of reconstruction Mr. Randall stood as a warm friend 
of the South, opposing such measures as he deemed harsh and unjust 
to that section of the country. He opposed the amendment abolishing 
slavery, not so much because he believed in that institution, but be- 
cause he was convinced it would lead to a brood of constitutional 

He was an advocate of close economy in government expenditures, 
and when he was chairman of the Committee on Appropriations he 
put his economy views to actual practice. In pushing his economies 
he sometimes had to antagonize his own party, and sometimes the 
Republicans, but he stood steadfast* He was several times a member 
of the Committee on Ways and Means, and ever stood steadfastly for 
a protective tariff. This does not mean that he always went as far in 
that direction as did the Republicans, for he did not do so, but with 
him protection must be a prime feature in the tariff bill if he was to 
give it his support 

In 1880 he was prominently spoken of as a probable candidate for 
the Presidency before the Democratic convention. In that convention 
he did receive more than one hundred votes. Had he been in full 
accord with his party on the tariff question there is little doubt he 
would have been given the nomination instead of General Hancock. 
He was of the mold that would not barter conviction for office. 

He slowly advanced toward the leadership of his party in the House, 
and in all the party councils he exerted a wide influence, and frequently 
a dominant influence. He was a stickler for the rights and dignities 
of the House, and demonstrated this on several occasions when on 
committee of conference between the House and Senate over differing 
views on some bill He held that the House, under the Constitution, 


was the real judge as to how the money of the Government was to be 
expended. As Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations 
he had reduced the appropriations far below the estimate by the de- 
partments. When the bill reached the Senate, that body would in- 
crease the sum. Such increases always brought on a fight, and on 
two occasions he let important appropriation bills fail in the House 
because of the increases by the Senate, and thus forced the calling of 
special sessions. 

As a minority leader, perhaps his greatest fame rests on the 
methods he pursued and the generalship he displayed in defeating 
what was known as the "Force Bill." It was in the closing days of 
the Forty-third Congress. Two bills were pending that known as 
the Force Bill and the other calledi the Civil Rights Bill. The Repub- 
licans had a large majority in the House, and, it was supposed, could, 
and would, pass both measures. The minority was opposed to the bills, 
but were despondent over the outlook. Especially was this true of 
the members from the Southern States. 

In pursuing his convictions of duty, Randall was firm, courageous, 
and relentless. He was a master of parliamentary law and of the rules 
of the House. Determined to prevent the passage of the Force Bill, 
he marshaled his party into an invincible phalanx, ready at all times 
to stand by him. From the rules of the House he extracted a system 
of dilatory motions, through which he hoped to stave off the final vote 
until the session should end by constitutional limitation. For seventy- 
two hours he stood in his place in the House, compelling one roll call 
after another. He never left the Hall of the House during those long 
and trying hours. He ate at his desk or in the lobby in the rear of the 
Speaker. He never slept, unless it was for an occasional moment dur- 
ing the monotonous roll call. He was there, and there to stay until a 
victory was won. It was a wonderful test of physical and mental 
endurance. When the hour came that he knew was too late for the 
bill to pass the Senate, he calmly withdrew from offering dilatory 
motions. It is said that when the House finally adjourned after this 
long filibuster, Randall marched down the aisle carrying in his hand 
the tin coffee pot from which he had sustained his physical powers 
during those two days and two nights. 

From that time no one questioned his leadership. He was some- 
times dogmatic, and would arouse some feeling in his party, but no 
one thought of denying his leadership. In the Forty-fourth Congress 
Mr. Michael C. Kerr, of Indiana, was the Speaker. At the time of his 
election to that office many of the Democratic Representatives pre- 
ferred Mr. Randall, but Mr. Kerr had served longer, and was known 
to be one worthy that high honor, so it was given to him. He did not 
live to serve out his term, death claiming him after a prolonged sick- 
ness. Mr. Randall was elected to the vacancy, and reelected at the 

Forty-seventh Congress 


Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth and 

Fiftieth Congresses 


Fifty-second and Fifty-third 



Fifty-sixth and Fifty-seventh 



Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth Congresses. As a Speaker he was a model 
presiding* officer, quick and ready with his decisions ; firm, yet concilia- 
tory ; resolute at all times, yet at all times treating the members with 
the greatest 'courtesy. It was not infrequent in those days for the 
House to become unruly aftd boisterous. On such occasions Mr. Ran- 
dall held the riotous members with a firm hand, compelling obedience 
to the rules of the House. He was Speaker at the time of the counting 
of the vote for Tilden and Hayes, in 1876. It will be recalled that on 
the face of the returns Hayes had 185 electoral votes, and Tilden 184. 
In the 185 counted for Hayes were the votes of Florida, South Caro- 
lina, and Louisiana, which were disputed by the Democrats. It was 
a perilous time, and an Electoral Commission, consisting of fifteen 
members, was provided to pass upon the disputed votes. 

On the 1st of March, 1877, three days before the expiration of Presi- 
dent Grant's term, the Democrats in the House learned that the deci- 
sion of the Commission would give the Presidency to Hayes, and, be- 
lieving that decision to be wrong, organized for the purpose of pre- 
venting a completion of the count. The plan consisted of preventing 
joint sessions of the two houses, and thus prevent the proclaiming of 
the result of the vote. The accomplishment of such a scheme would 
have resulted in chaos. After midnight of March 3 there would have 
been no President, no Congress, and civil war might follow. By dila- 
tory motions they held the House in session until late on the night of 
the 3rd of March, Only a few hours remained of the session. Then it 
was that Speaker Randall took hold of the situation. He brushed aside 
the rules of the House under which the dilatory motions were held to 
be in order, declared that to count the vote was a duty imposed by the 
Constitution, and that no motion that would prevent the House from 
performing that duty was in order; that in counting the vote the 
House was operating under the Constitution and not under any rules. 
He quelled what might be styled the mutiny, the counting was pro- 
ceeded with and completed, and thus the threatened chaos was escaped. 

Of Mr. Randall one who knew him well, and who was in position to 
rightly judge of his capabilities and service, thus wrote of him: 
"Randall was a natural and ideal leader. His commanding presence 
attracted followers ; his mastery of details, his boldness and unfalter- 
ing courage, his mental alertness and resourcefulness, his deliberation 
and coolness in action, inspired confidence and excited enthusiasm. 
And beyond these physical and mental qualities stood conspicuously 
the unquestioned patriotism, and invulnerable integrity of the man. 
His industry was untiring, and when its fruition was presented to the 
House, as in the case of general appropriation bills, he was as firm as 
adamant. His work was performed intelligently, conscientiously, and 
in carrying it out he was alike indifferent to the persuasion of party 
associates and the attacks of his political opponents. Randall's great 


success in his numerous contests in the House was based upon thor- 
ough knowledge of details and his wonderful tenacity in adhering to 
a settled purpose, born of conviction." 

It is said of him that as Speaker of the House he was a firm believer 
in the constitutional rights of the individual members, and that under 
him no one was permitted to trample on the rights of another. He 
was eminently fair in his rulings. No one ever questioned the fair- 
ness and impartiality of his rulings, even when he brushed aside the 
rules of the House as he did on that memorable occasion of counting 
the electoral vote in 1877. No story of Mr. Randall can be complete 
without quoting what he said on that great occasion : "The Chair rules 
that when the Constitution of the United States directs anything to 
be done, or when the laws under the Constitution of the United States, 
enacted in obedience thereto, direct any act by this House, it is not in 
order to make any motion to obstruct or impede the execution of that 
injunction of the Constitution and the laws." 

With him the Constitution and the laws were above all party or 
personal consideration. He believed that the decision of the Electoral 
Commission was wrong, that it would deprive the nominee of his party 
of an office to which he had been rightfully elected, yet he did not 
hesitate, did not falter. The Constitution said count, and that was the 
end so far as he was concerned. There was a duty to be performed, 
a duty imposed by the Constitution. To him the Constitution was the 
highest law of the land. It was the supreme law, and he would not 
permit it to be infracted. 

Mr. Randall was stricken in 1889 with a painful disease. For many 
months his condition was such as to draw sympathy from all classes 
of the people, from all political parties. For many months he suffered 
from this incurable disease. His sufferings, it was said by those who 
were permitted to visit him, was of the most intense kind, yet he bore 
it all manfully. It was evident to others that his days on earth were 
numbered, but he never lost hope until the very last. Death came at 
last to relieve him from his awful suffering, and the nation went into 


J WARREN KIEFFER Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 
Forty-seventh Congress. Born in Bethel Township, Clark County, 
Ohio, January 30, 1836. Son of Joseph and Mary (Smith) Kieffer. 
Educated in the common schools and at Antioch College. Married, 
March 18, 1860, Miss Eliza Stout, 

J. Warren Kieffer, soldier and statesman, was one of the typical men 
of America. In his boyhood days he worked on his father's farm, get- 
ting what schooling he could in a country school during the winter 


months. He was ambitions, and when the opportunity offered he 
entered Antioch College. He did not finish his course. The death of 
his father recalled him to the farm, over which he took the manage- 
ment when he was but seventeen years of age. His ambition was to be 
a lawyer, and that ambition was finally gratified. He entered the 
office of one of the distinguished lawyers of his town and applied him- 
self to the labor of mastering that science. He was admitted to the 
bar in 1855 and located at Springfield and began there the practice of 
his profession. 

He took an active interest in political affairs, being an ardent Repub- 
lican. It was at a time when the country was torn up over the agita- 
tion on the question of slavery extension. Squatter sovereignty was 
bearing its fruit, forcing the country on to its final result a disas- 
trous civil war. In the political campaign young Kieffer was active in 
advocating the election of Mr. Lincoln. That election, as everyone 
knows, hastened the era of war. War came ; President Lincoln called 
for troops ; young Kieffier was among the first to respond, and on the 
27th of April, 1861, he was mustered into the service as Major of the 
Third Ohio Volunteers, The regiment was sent to West Virginia, and 
there, under McClellan, took part in the battles of Eich Mountain and 
Cheat Mountain, Major Kieffer winning praise for his soldierly quali- 
ties. The regiment was then transferred to Kentucky and placed 
under the command of General Don Carlos Buell, where it took part 
in the battles of Bowling Green and Nashville. By that time Major 
Kieffer has been promoted to the Lieutenant Colonelcy of the regiment. 
This he resigned on being 1 appointed Colonel of the One Hundred and 
Tenth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. 

With this regiment he was sent to the Shenandoah Valley to join the 
forces of General Milroy. It was at a time when Stonewall Jackson 
was making his foray into the Valley, and Colonel Kieffer took part 
in all the battles there, receiving three wounds. They were all severe 
but none severe enough to keep his from the field. 

Transferred to the Army of the Potomac he took part in that most 
terrible of all battles, the three days' struggle in the wilderness, receiv- 
ing another wound. When Early invaded Maryland in an effort to 
force Grant to loosen the grasp he held on Petersburg, Colonel Kieffer 
was sent with his regiment to joint Sheridan. By that time he was in 
command of a brigade* 

Qquecon, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek ! . Three battles always classed 
as among the most famous during the war. The first sent the Con- 
federates "Whirling through Winchester/' as Sheridan despatched to 
Grant ; the second almost destroyed Early and his command ; the third 
made Sheridan immortal for his ride from Winchester, "Twenty miles 
away," In the first two Colonel Kieffer fought his brigade with such 
judgment and courage as to win from Sheridan high praise. At Cedar 


Creek he was in command of a division. It was one of the first organ- 1 
ized troops Sheridan met on his famous ride. In his Memoires he 
says that when the division recognized him they gave a great shout, 
and without being ordered to do so turned and hastened back toward 
the camp from which they had been driven. Before dark settled down 
the federal army was once more back in its camp and the disheartened 
Confederates were in full retreat. 

Back to the Army of the Patomac December, 1864, found Colonel 
Kieffer, still in command of a division, back in front of Petersburg. 
There he took part in the assault on the outer defenses on the 25th of 
March, the assault which so plainly told to General Lee that the end 
was only a little way off. 

Colonel Kieffer, having been brevetted a Brigadier General, was with 
Sheridan in the famous pursuit of Lee. It was at the battle of Sailors 
Creek he won his greatest fame. The battle was nearly over when 
General Kieffer received information that a body of troops were hidden 
from sight in a woods. Desiring to satisfy himself of their presence, 
and as to which army they belonged, he started out on a personal re- 
connoissance. Suddenly he found himself in the immediate presence of 
a large force. To turn his horse and endeavor to escape would be futile 
as he would be the target for a hundred muskets. His presence of 
mind did not leave him. It was too dark in the woods for them to rec- 
ognize his uniform, and he took advantage of that circumstance, shout- 
ing out the word "Forward !" in a most confident tone. 

His assurance won, for the force, which later was found to be a part 
of the Marine Corps of the Confederate navy, immediately advanced. 
He quickened the pace of his horse, and that quickened the pace of the 
marines. When they debouched from the woods it was still light 
enough in the opening for them to recognize his uniform. A howl of 
rage was his greeting, and several muskets were leveled at him. Their 
fire was prevented by some of the officers who were ready to honor the 
ruse that had been played, and to admire the quick action of mind that 
enabled him to carry it through. 

By this time they were in the presence of Kieffer's division, and the 
Confederates, realizing the situation, at once surrendered. Among the 
captured party were several officers of high rank. Colonel Kieffer re- 
mained with the army until the surrender of Lee, and then took part 
in the grand review at Washington. 

Peace having been reached, Mr. Kieffer returned to his Ohio home 
and resumed the practice of law, also engaging in the banking biisi- 
ness, but he did not forsake his love for politics. He was offered a 
Lieutenant Colonelcy in the regular army, but declined it. In 1868 he 
was elected a member of the Ohio Senate and took part in the discus- 
sions of that body for two terms. In 1876 he was elected to the Forty- 
fifth Congress, and reelected to the Forty-sixth, Forty-seventh, and 


Forty-eighth Congresses. The Forty-fifth Congress was a notable one. 
It was the one which followed the settlement of the Hayes-Tilden con- 
test over the Presidency, and angry passions ruled each day, Mr. 
Kieffer was not ranked as a great orator, but he took an active part 
in the discussions of the various grave questions which came before the 
House. It was reported of him that he was specially active in commit- 
tee work. He was a man of decided views, and never feared to give 
expression to them. He found in the House when he became a member 
a number of notable figures. Garfield, Elaine, Reed and Conkling were 
there, each trying to lead the party to which Kieffer gave adherence. 
On the Democratic side there were also several men who became a part 
of the history of the country. Elections in the Southern States were 
among the matters which stirred the public. Mr, Kieffer was one of 
those who believed that the Government having given freedom and the 
right of franchise to the black man it was in duty bound to see they 
were amply protected in their civil and political rights. For that pur- 
pose the armed forces of the United States should be employed when- 
ever and wherever necessary. 

He was at all times a strenuous advocate of that policy. He was 
persistent, sometimes rather pugnacious in enforcing his views on the 
House. His pertinacity in this direction won him many friends 
throughout the North, but there were a number of Eepublican Repre- 
sentatives who were willing to leave the whole matter to time. Mr. 
Kieffer was not of that class. To him the future would have perplexi- 
ties of its own, and according to his theory of government each day 
should take care of its own evils. 

Notwithstanding his persistency and aggressiveness in this matter 
he won many friends among his colleagues. They all recognized his 
sturdy honesty of purpose, and while differing with him they admired 
his persistency. Inl880 the Republicans managed to wrest the House 
of Representatives from the control of the Democrats. That party had 
been in the majority in the House for three Congresses, and had been 
under the leadership of Samuel J. Randall. When it became certain 
the Republicans would have a majority in the Forty-seventh Congress, 
candidates for the Speakership began to loom up. Among the most 
prominent of them were Thomas B, Reed, Frank Hiscock, of New 
York, and Julius Burrough, of Michigan. At first the name of Mr. 
Kieffer was mentioned only occasionally. As the time approached for 
holding the party caucus the thoughts of his colleagues began to turn 
more and more toward him. He won out after a sharp struggle. 

Garfield, from his own State, had become President. His assassina- 
tion followed shortly afterward. Speaker Kieffer introduced some 
new rules which were about as obnoxious to the members as were the 
famous Reed rules a few years later. He was in the Speaker's chair 
to make history, and he never faltered, never hesitated. The minority 


assailed some of the revolutionary rules with savage fury. The Speaker 
was a soldier, and was fearless. It became current gossip during the 
contest over the rules that a plot was organized to throw him out of the 
chair by violence, and resist any and all eff orts to again occupy it. The 
gossip reached the ears of General Kieffer, and it aroused all his fight- 
ing blood. The next morning he quietly armed himself, so the story 
goes, took the chair at the proper hour, and with a resounding rap of 
the gavel called the House to order. Before that morning his call for 
order had been in the mildest of tones, but all that was changed. It 
was the voice of a grim veteran accustomed to issuing commands that 
on that morning announced, "The House will be in order/' 

There was something so grim, so determined in the attitude of the 
Speaker that the plotters were overawed. After the adjournment that 
evening it was gleefully remarked by several members that there never 
had been so quiet, so peaceable a session of the House since it first met 
in 1789. One of the rules he introduced and enforced was really bene- 
ficial to the transaction of business by the House. Prior to his time 
it was the custom during the morning hour for members who had bills 
to introduce to rise in their seats and shout, in stentorian tones, "Mr. 
Speaker!" until they finally secured a recognition by him. One can 
readily imagine the confusion and riot of sound for a dozen men to be 
shouting to the Speaker at the same time. 

Speaker Kieffer determined to put an end to such unruly scenes. He 
changed the order so that a quiet and orderly call of the roll of the 
States should be made, and as the name of the State was called, its 
members could present such bills, petitions, or resolutions as might be 
on their minds. It may sound rather funny at this date to say that 
this rule was assailed with the utmost vehemence by many of the 
members. It was their right by tradition and custom to strain their 
vocal organs with crying "Mr. Speaker!" and they opposed giving it 
up. Give it up they did, however, and the new rule soon became 

It has been changed since then. Now the member prepares Ms bill, 
endorses it with his name and the Committee which should consider it> 
and then tosses it over to the clerk. This is a vast saving of time and 
avoids confusion on the floor. 

The Democrats obtained control of the House in the Forty-eighth 
Congress, and Mr. Kieffer was retired from the Speakership. He 
served on the floor during that Congress. At its close he retired to 
private life. He gave much time to writing several books, the most 
notable one being entitled "Slavery and Four Years of War." In that 
volume he gave his views as to the causes which led to the war be- 
tween the States, and as to the results obtained. In some parts the 
language is of the most vigorous kind. Nowhere did he refrain from 
criticism when he thought criticism was needed. He had served dur- 


ing the entire four years of the war, and had served with distinction. 
His experience had been such as to make him a judge of army move- 
ments and of the ability of those in command. 

He was in retirement when the war with Spain came. Fired with 
his old martial spirit, he at once tendered his services to President 
McKinley, and was appointed a Major-General of volunteers. It is said 
that he was the only person in civil life from one of the Northern 
States or who had served in the Union army so honored. He com- 
manded the United States forces that took possession of Havana in 

After an absence of twenty years, Mr. Kieffer was sent back to the 
House of Representatives. He was then in his seventieth year, but 
was physically and mentally still in his prime. He returned to Con- 
gress to accomplish one thing, if he could. In his former congressional 
service he had been one of the most steadfast and earnest advocates 
of securing the political rights of the colored people in the South. They 
were counted when an enumeration was had to fix the basis for a Rep- 
resentative in Congress, but somehow or other they failed to vote, the 
result being that a much smaller vote would elect a member of Con- 
gress down there than was required in the North. 

Mr. Kieffer's hobby when he reentered the House was to remedy 
all this. His remedy was to secure the enactment of legislation which 
would reduce the representation of the Southern States to the basis 
of their actual voting population* He failed. He served in the Fifty- 
ninth, Sixtieth, and Sixty-first Congresses, and once more returned to 
private life. 


JOHN GRIFFIN CARLISLE Speaker of the House of Representatives 
in the Forty-eighth, Forty-ninth, and Fiftieth Congresses. Born in 
Kenton County, Kentucky, September 5, 1835. Educated in rural 
schools. Married, January 15, 1857, Miss Mary Jane Goodson. Died 
in New York City, July 31, 1910. 

When Kentucky makes up her roll of those who have served her 
well, the name of John G. Carlisle will have a prominent place. Eight 
years in the Kentucky Legislature, four years Lieutenant Governor of 
the State, twelve years in the National House of Representatives, three 
years a member of the United States Senate, and four years a member 
of the Cabinet make the period of his services to the public a period of 
almost a third of a century. In all places he served well 

John G. Carlisle was a farmer boy. His father was a farmer with a 
large family to support, and each, as soon as old enough, was expected 
to take a part of the labor necessary on the farm or in the home. Thus 
it was that young John at a very tender age began his labors. The 


only school education he received was by attending the rural schools 
for brief periods. He was ambitious. He devoted himself during the 
days to work on the farm, and his nights to study. 

At the age of seventeen he began the work of teaching, himself, but 
did not give up altogether the farm work. He industriously combined 
the two. Those who have tried it know that teaching a rural school 
is no easy task. Hard as it was young Carlisle applied himself to it 
with a determination to succeed. He did succeed. Years afterward he 
found among his most ardent supporters for political perferment 
many who had sat on the hard benches of the rural school house while 
he started them on the road to an education. After a time he found an 
opening as a teacher in Covington, and he removed to that city. There 
he taught, and there began the study of the law. It was hard work 
teaching all day, and studying law half the night, but he did not shrink 
from the labor. He never faltered. His ambitions increased with the 
years. In 1858 his labors as a teacher ended, and his life as a practic- 
ing attorney began. 

Admitted to the bar he quickly commanded a fair share of the litiga- 
tion in the courts of Covington. By this time he had made his mark 
with the people and in 1859 he was elected to the Kentucky House of 
Representatives. Politically he was a Democrat, and as such almost at 
once began to take his place among the leaders of that party. While a 
member of the Kentucky House of Representatives secession became 
one of the leading issues. War, he felt, was sure to follow any attempt 
of a Southern State to withdraw from the Union, and he was not slow 
in placing himself on the side of the Union, and that position he stead- 
fastly maintained throughout that long and bloody era which followed. 
He was a Southern man, born and grew to manhood where slavery was 
not only tolerated, but regarded as a divine institution, he did not yield 
to all the demands of its advocates and defenders for an extension of 
its domain. 

He took an active interest in politics, and in all questions wherein 
the interests of the people were involved. After serving a term or two 
in the Kentucky Senate 'he was nominated by his party in 1871 for the 
office of Lieutenant Governor of the State. In the campaign which 
followed he canvassed nearly the whole State, winning a reputation as 
a speaker of much more than ordinary breadth and power. He had 
been a leader in the State Senate and now was to become one of the 
leaders of his party in the State. He took an active part in very cam- 
paign as a speaker and as one of the ablest in party councils. He be- 
lieved in the fundamental principles of the Democratic party, yet was 
never a narrow partisan. 

In 1876 he was elected to the Forty-fifth Congress. He was regu- 
larly reelected to the five succeeding Congresses, He entered Con- 
gress at the beginning of the administration of President Hayes, a time 


when partyism was at fever heat. Samuel J. Bandall was Speaker of 
the House of Representatives, and it was the aim of the Speaker to 
keep the tariff question on the side track. Speaker Randall was a pro- 
tectionist of the Clay school. Mr. Carlisle was opposed to that system. 
One of his first speeches was in advocacy of a reform in the internal 
revenue system, a speech many have regarded as one of his greatest 
efforts. It was later used by the Democratic party as a campaign docu- 
ment. He also favored the upbuilding of the American merchant 
marine. His speech on that question was one of the ablest ever deliv- 
ered in the House on the subject. Before the Forty-fifth Congress 
reached its constitutional limit Mr. Carlisle had taken his place as one 
of the leaders. 

The Southern States had all been readjusted and new issues were 
springing up. One of the questions which troubled American poli- 
tics for a number of years was that of making a broader use of silver 
as a coin of the realm. It resulted in enacting what became known as 
the "Bland- Allison Coinage Bill." This bill provided that the Secretary 
of the Treasury should purchase each month at least $2,000,000 worth 
of silver bullion, to be coined into silver dollars of 412% grains each. 
The Secretary was required to purchase at least $2,000,000 of bullion, 
but might at his option increase the purchases to $4,000,000. The 
bill passed both Houses, but was vetoed by President Hayes. It was 
then passed over his veto and became a law. Mr. Carlisle took an 
active part in the debates on the bill, and was recognized by the advo- 
cates of silver as an eloquent and able defender of the use of silver as a 
circulating medium. When he became a member of President Cleve- 
land's Cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury, he had a change of heart. 

The Bland- Allison bill had been changed somewhat before that time. 
The clause as to the purchase of bullion was retained, but the coinage 
into dollars was stopped. Secretary Carlisle found the operation of the 
act had played havoc with the "free gold" in the treasury, and that it 
was manifest the country would be forced to go to a silver basis unless 
gold was secured. 

He proposed an issue of bonds to get gold, and contracted with a 
syndicate of bankers to take the issue at a little above par. In a little 
time the bonds advanced to a much higher figure. A second issue was 
proposed, and the attempt to dispose of them in the same manner 
caused much adverse criticism in the newspapers and among members 
of Congress. Secretary Carlisle was the butt of severe animadversions 
on his conduct in disposal of the first issue, and at last the new issue 
was offered to the public, and was quickly absorbed. He became an 
advocate of the gold standard, and during the campaign of 1896, when 
the free coinage of silver with Mr, Bryan as the Democratic candidate 
were before the people, Mr. Carlisle supported Palmer and Buckner. 


He attempted to make a gold speech in his home town, and was greeted 
with a shower of bad eggs. 

There can be no question that Secretary Carlisle's issuance of bonds 
to maintain the gold in the treasury was a good thing for the country. 
Before the enactment of what is known as the Sherman purchasing 
act, about ninety per cent of the customs duties were paid in gold* 
Under the operation of that Act no gold, or very little, came to the 
treasury, yet gold had to be obtained if the credit of the Government 
was to be maintained. The only way to get the gold was to buy it, and 
the only way the Government had to purchase the gold was by the 
Issuing of bonds. To this Secretary Carlisle steadfastly stood, and he 
was supported in this attitude by the President. A commercial panic 
followed, but it did not cause the Secretary to change his plan, 

Mr. Carlisle could well lay claim to statesmanship. It is true he was 
not a great constructive statesman, as John Adams, Alexander Hamil- 
ton and James Madison were. He did not possess the glorious idealism 
as to the rights of the people, and their ability for self-government 
which made Jefferson famous. He did not possess the knowledge and 
ability for handling perplexing affairs with foreign nations, as did 
John Quincy Adams, Richard Olney and Charles Evans Hughes, nor 
was he the equal of Hamilton, Gallatin, Crawford and McCulloch as a 
great minister of finance, but he was a statesman of that class which 
could, when the occasion arose, marshal the whole country in view and 
determine what was best for all the interests of the country* 

It was that characteristic that caused him to change his attitude on 
the silver question. The change brought on him many anathemas 
from those who had formerly been his friends. Yet all that did not 
move him. He saw in the Sherman Act a measure bringing 1 financial 
ruin to the business interests of the country, and he stood steadfastly 
for its repeal. It can be said of Mr. Carlisle that he was an honest 
statesman honest to his convictions of what was best for the country 
as a whole. 

He was as firm an advocate of tariff reform as any of his party col- 
leagues, yet was not as rabid as some of them. His speeches on the 
tariff question were models of argument, and were based on what he 
believed to be reliable statistics. He had long been a student of that 
question, and it had no abler defender than Mr. Carlisle while he was 
a member of the House. He was regarded by his fellow members as 
one of the ablest lawyers in the House, and when he discussed consti- 
tutional questions, as he often did, he commanded the closest attention 
from men of all parties. 

When the Forty-eighth Congress assembled the Democrats had an 
overwhelming majority, and they could work their will without a seri- 
ous obstacle. Mr. Randall was again a candidate before the party cau- 
cus for the nomination as Speaker. He had served three terms, and 


had been succeeded by J. Warren Kieffer, a Republican. He was a 
thorough-going protectionist, while his party had declared for a tariff 
reform where the revision was to be downward. Personally all the 
Democratic members of the House were his friends, but the tariff 
question overshadowed everything. As Speaker during the three 
terms he had proved to be one of the ablest who had ever occupied the 
Chair, yet the sentiment for a downward revision of the tariff caused 
many of the members to oppose his selection. They turned to Carlisle 
as the one most likely to succeed. The contest was sharp, and it re- 
quired several ballots in the caucus before a selection was made, Car- 
lisle proving the winner. 

He was twice reelected, and throughout the three terms won the 
respect of his political foes and the devoted allegiance of his party 
friends. He was a partisan, but his partisanship never led him to an 
unjust ruling. He selected for Chairman of the great Committee on 
Ways and Means Representative Morrison, of Illinois. It resulted in 
the presentation of what is known in political history as the Morrison 
Tariff Reform BilL By it the duties were lowered all along the line, 
and the free list greatly extended. Mr. Randall was able to defeat it, 

Mr. Carlisle's knowledge of parliamentary law was extensive and 
he was able to sustain by precedents any of his rulings which were 
disputed. He was suave, courteous, and kindly to all, especially to new 
members. He has a right to be classed among the great Speakers. 
He was always dignified and patient. The death of Senator Beck 
opened the way for Mr. Carlisle to enter what we often term the Up- 
per House of Congress. He took his seat in the Senate May 25, 1890. 
It was while Benjamin Harrison was President. Under Mr. Cleve- 
land the Democrats had succeeded in enacting a low tariff law, and 
the Republicans who had obtained control were endeavoring to upset 
the existing schedule. 

The noted McKinley bill was then being pushed forward. Mr, Car- 
lisle at once placed himself among its opponents, and his speech against 
it was classed as one of the ablest delivered during the controversy. It 
was used by his party as a campaign document in 1892, and had great 
effect In many parts of the country* He remained in the Senate until 
he was called to a seat in President Cleveland's Cabinet as Secretary 
of the Treasury. His conduct of that great department of the Gov- 
ernment has already been noticed. 

In 1897 he retired to private life, retired a poor man. He had given 
a third of a century to the service of the public. He was getting to be 
an old man, and he felt it time to do something toward earning more 
than the pittance then paid to those who served the people. He was 
an able lawyer, and at once commanded a lucrative practice. 

It was indeed his farewell to political life, but not a final farewell 


to his interest in politics, and in all that was good for the Government 
and the people. His popularity with the people of Kentucky was not 
diminished, although it had suffered a temporary cloud owing to his 
attitude on the silver question. Even those who had then so viciously 
denounced him came once more to regard his honesty of purpose, and 
to do honor to his great abilities. 


r-pHOMAS BRACKETT REED Speaker of the House of Representatives 
JL in the Fifty-first, Fifty-fourth, and Fifty-fifth Congresses. Born 
in Portland, Maine, October 18, 1839. Son of Thomas B. and Matilda 
P. (Mitchell) Reed. Educated at Bowdoin College. Died in Washing- 
ton, D. C., December 7, 1902. 

Twelve times elected to the House of Representatives, serving three 
terms as Speaker, Thomas Brackett Reed had a most memorable 
career. He had held several offices under the State before he became 
a member of the House. In fact, he was in office almost his entire life 
after reaching maturity. He served Maine in its House of Representa- 
tives, and Senate, and as Attorney General, and was three years City 
Solicitor for Portland. 

He was first sent to Congress in 1877 as a member of the Forty-fifth 
Congress. He was reelected to the eleven succeeding Congresses. He 
was the caucus nominee of his party for the Speakership seven times, 
and defeated four times out of the seven races. No other Speaker who 
has served the House ever had so stormy a career as did Reed, In his 
first term the House was in almost continuous riot, yet through it all 
the Speaker calmly held his iron rule. Nothing seemed to disturb his 
equanimity, nor cause him to raise his voice from its peculiar softness. 

Under the rules of the House prevailing at the time of his first elec- 
tion as Speaker, a minority could place an absolute veto on all legisla- 
tion, except in cases where the majority was strong enough in num- 
bers to always command a quorum. This condition was almost intol- 
erable, and Mr. Reed determined to break it up. He was an able, 
aggressive man by nature. He mapped out the course he intended to 
pursue and laid it before some of his party friends. They desired its 
success, but did not believe he could accomplish what he desired. 

For six years the Republicans had been out of power in the House, 
but won a majority in the Fifty-first Congress. Mr. Reed was nomi- 
nated by the Republicans for Speaker, and he was elected over John 
G. Carlisle by a vote of 166 to 154. The Republicans had a majority 
of only twelve, and the large Democratic minority could, under the 
existing rules, block legislation at any and all times. The process fol- 
lowed was to suggest the absence of a quorum and demand a roll call. 

Fifty-first, Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Congresses 


At the call the Republicans would respond, while the Democrats would 
sit silently in their seats. It was that custom Speaker Reed designed 
to break up, A riot followed day after day. Whenever a quorum 
failed to respond when a roll was called, Speaker Reed would order the 
clerk to record such names as he should mention, the names being those 
of members present but who had not answered. On the first attempt 
at this revolutionary proceeding many Democratic members rushed to 
the front of the Speaker's desk, denouncing him in the strongest terms 
at their command, but the Speaker was not disturbed. He was always 
ready to rule, and always ready with repartee which generally set his 
party friends and the galleries to a roar of laughter and applause. Let 
one scene suffice: 

On the first occasion of thus counting a quorum the Speaker directed 
the clerk to record the name of Representative McCreary, of Ken- 
tucky. The gentleman from Kentucky sprang to his feet and denied 
the Speaker's right. Mr. Reed, in his smoothest and most dulcet 
tones, replied : "The Chair is making a statement of the fact that the 
gentleman from Kentucky is present. Does he deny it?" On one 
occasion an angry member of the minority party thus addressed the 

"You are a tyrant to rule over this House or the members of this 
House in any such way, and I denounce you as the worst tyrant that 
ever presided over a deliberative body." This was mild to some of the 
things that were said of Mr. Reed, but he continued his method of 
making a quorum until the end of that Congress. 

On another occasion, after epithets had been hurled at him from the 
Democratic side of the Hall for at least half an hour, Speaker Reed 
made the following statement in justification of his rulings : 

The House will not allow itself to be deceived by epithets. The facts which 
have transpired during the last few days have transpired in the presence of this 
House and of a very large auditory. No man can describe the action and judg- 
ment of this Chair in language which will endure unless that description be true. 

A man much more famous than any in this hall said, many years ago, that 
nobody could write him down but himself. Nobody can talk any member of this 
House down except himself. 

Whatever is done has been done in the face of the world and is subject to its 
discriminating judgment. The proceedings of the House, so far as -the Chair is 
concerned, have been orderly, suitable, in conformity to the rules of parliamentary 
laws, and the refusal of the Chair to entertain the motion to adjourn at this junc- 
ture is strictly in accordance therewith. 

There is no possible way by which the orderly methods of parliamentary pro- 
cedure can be used to stop legislation. The object of a parliamentary body is 
action, and not stoppage of action. Hence, if any member or set of members 
undertake to oppose the orderly progress of business, even by the use of the ordi- 
narily recognised parliamentary motions, it is the right of the majority to refuse 
to have those motions entertained, and to cause the public business to proceed. 

Primarily, the organ of th House is the man elected to the Speakership. It is 
his duty in a clear case, recognizing the situation, to endeavor to carry out the 


wishes and desires of the majority of the body which he represents. Whenever 
it becomes apparent that the ordinary and proper parliamentary motions are 
being used solely for purposes of delay and obstruction; when members break in 
an unprecedented way over the rule in regard to the reading of the Journal; when 
a gentleman steps down to the front, amid the applause of his associates on the 
floor, and announces that it is his intention to make opposition in every direction, 
it then becomes apparent to the House and to the community what the purpose is. 
It is the duty of the occupant of the Speaker's Chair to take, under parliamentary 
law, the proper course with regard to such matters, and in order that there might 
not be any misunderstanding as to whether or not it is the wish or desire of the 
majority of the House apparent as it seems to be the question of appeal from 
the refusal of the Chair to entertain the motion will be put to the House for its 
judgment and determination. 

From this statement It would seem that Speaker Reed had one 
object only, to expedite the business of legislation, for, as far as the 
record discloses, there was nothing partisan in his manner. He finally 
wore out the opposition, and they, in a measure, ceased efforts to cause 
delay. His vindication came in the Fifty-second Congress. In that 
Congress the Democrats had a majority. Mr. Crisp was elected 
Speaker. He had been one of the most earnest protestants against 
Mr. Reed's methods. Now Mr. Reed was to get his opportunity to 
turn the tables. He was a master of parliamentary strategy, and from 
the floor kept Speaker Crisp and his party in a hot bath. He applied 
all the known methods of obstruction until, in self-protection, the 
Democrats were forced to adopt the rule of quorum counting and of 
refusing to entertain motions made for delay only that they had so 
bitterly condemned in the Fifty-first Congress. It was a great day of 
triumph for Mr. Reed, and his remarks were full of stings. 

In the Fifty-fourth Congress the Republicans were again in the 
ascendent in the House, and Mr. Reed was again elected Speaker, as he 
was in the Fifty-fifth Congress. By the time he again took his seat 
in the Speaker's Chair the House and the country had become accus- 
tomed to the change in methods of procedure he had introduced in the 
Fifty-first Congress, and there was not so much friction as had been 
formerly experienced. Champ Clark, himself one of the great Speakers 
of the House, called Reed "That masterful man," and says he accom- 
plished a great revolution in parliamentary procedure, and that he 
"was far and away the most brilliant figure in American politics. He 
did much to bring order out of chaos and to expedite the transaction 
of business, and for this deserves well." 

He served twenty-four years in the House, and they were years of 
activity. His power in debate and his earnest Republicanism were 
recognized almost from his first session. He was gifted with a readi- 
ness of repartee, and his repartee was often tinctured with gall and 
wormwood. He did, not always spare his political friends, but fre- 
quently offended some one by this dangerous penchant. One writer, 
a Washington correspondent who knew him well, thus wrote of him : 


Reed's aphorisms and cynicisms are part of the political traditions of "Washing- 
ton, and many of his victims have been rescued from oblivion simply because they 
served as the targets of Ms scorching wit. For Mr. Reed's wit was never the 
gentle philosophy that stings but does not scar. It was always mordant. It 
scarred deep. The wound never quite healed. At the tip of the shaft lurked a tiny 
drop of poison that entered into the victim's veins and forever after destroyed his 
peace of mind. In the busiest hours of the day, in the still, small hours of the 
night, there would sweep over him, turning him hot and cold by turns, the recol- 
lection of that moment when Reed's barb smote Mm with all the lancinating pain 
of steel driven deep into the flesh, and the victim would grind Ms teeth in im- 
potent fury and long for a day of revenge. But he knew he longed for the unat- 
tainable. The gods fear not mortals. Reed was beyond the arrows of his victims. 
No man ever engaged with him in a contest of wit and did not regret his temerity, 
and only fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Occasionally a new man, view- 
ing himself through his local reputation, with all the reckless audacity of youth 
would hurl himself into the arena and challenge the knight of the caustic wit to 
mortal combat. On these occasions Mr. Reed never closed his visor. It would be 
lending too much dignity to his opponent to break a lance with him. Like a big 
dog who lays a puppy low with a single blow of his paw and calmly continued the 
enjoyment of the interrupted bone, Mr. Reed would fling out, in the most careless 
and drawling and indifferent manner, a flaming shaft of satire or ridicule that 
pierced the complacency of even the newest and most bumptious member and 
drown him under the jeers and laughter of the House. 

For nearly the whole of his twenty-four years of congressional life 
he was a leader of his party. He was, in one sense of the word, a par- 
tisan, always with an eye to the advantage of his party, yet would not 
let his partyism overrule his judgment as to what was best. He did not 
agree with President McKinley on the Philippian question. He felt 
convinced that the United States should not enter the arena of im- 
perialism. He held to the traditions of the fathers fight shy of for- 
eign complications* To take and hold possession of the Philippine 
Islands was certain, in his mind, to bring about complications with 
other countries that would breed endless troubles. His heart and mind 
was America, and America only, 

He was ambitious. He looked for the day when his party would call 
him to lead it in a campaign for the presidency. He was disappointed, 
as many another ambitious man has been. McKinley got the nomina- 
tion when Reed expected it would fall to him. He still hoped to be the 
successor of the Ohio statesman, but when McKinley fell at the hands 
of an assassin, placing Mr. Roosevelt in the lead, all hope abandoned 
him. He died a disappointed man. 

In September, 1899, he suddenly resigned his seat in the House and 
moved to New York to engage in the practice of his profession. The 
only reason he ever gave to the public for this sudden retirement was 
that he felt the necessity of earning more money for the proper sup- 
port of his family. He was a great lawyer, and knew he could soon 
command a clientelle that would remunerate him. He did not live long, 


but in the few months he lived, demonstrated that he had not overesti- 
mated his powers to command a practice. 

Mr. Reed was a man of great intellectuality, and had a thorough 
knowledge on all public questions, which would have made him formid- 
able in debate had not his overpowering propensity to use sarcasm 
and to utter bitter things weakened the effect of his argument. He 
would say bitter things when there was no occasion. He could not 
resist the temptation when an opening occurred. His sarcasms were 
always accompanied by a sneer in tone and in manner which made 
what he said offensive, even when the words otherwise would have 
only produced laughter. Here is one illustration. Mr. Springer, of 
Illinois, was one of the strong men of the House, never offending 
against its rules, or using words that would offend. In the course of 
a speech on one occasion he happened to say: "I would rather be 
right than be President." Mr. Reed at once interjected: "Mr. Speaker, 
don't let that worry you ; he will never be either." There was no occa- 
sion for Mr. Reed to make any remark, but he could not resist the 
temptation. The words were harmless, but the sneer in his tone 
rankled in the breast of his victim, and Mr, Springer was added to 
those who disliked the man from Maine. 

In discussing any subject he took special delight in taunting his 
opponents. The House in the Fifty-third Congress passed a tariff bill 
that met the favor of President Cleveland. It went to the Senate, and 
was there battered and bruised until its friends could not recognise it* 
As was the rule, a joint committee undertook to reconcile the differ- 
ences between the two Houses. The Senate forced its will on the 
House members of the committee. It was one of Reed's opportunities. 
He took advantage of it. He said : 

The job you have got to do is such that the sooner you get over it the better 
you will feel. You realize how distasteful and dissatisfying- all this is, and you 
put into the order some trimmings. You are satisfied that what you are going to 
do needs seasoning 1 , and you propose to garnish it with suitable seasoning:, too, 
You are going to enact a bill which you believe not to be an honest bill, and you 
are going to accompany it with a parade which you know is not honest. 

You are going to give us free sugar yes, in your minds. You are going to 
give us free coal oh, my friends. And then you are going to give us free iron, 
and you are going to do it in a manly way, like the backdown you are making 
here. You fear that a bill for free sugar will be contaminated by passing 
through a committee which may have become an appendage of another portion 
of what has been discovered to be the legislative branch of this Government. You 
are going to march free coal over the dead bodies of the Ways and Means Com- 
mittee. You are going to give an hour on a side to discussing six hundred amend- 
ments, no one of which has been touched by this House, one-tenth of a second for 
each amendment. How do you like the whole program ? 

It is unfortunate for the gentleman from West Virginia that he and his com- 
patriots have had to contend with gentlemen of much more capacity and skill 
Undoubtedly the House conferees meant well, undoubtedly their intentions were 
honorable; but they were no match for the gentlemen whom they met in the other 


branch. They were not skilled as those men are. Why, our conferees came back 
to "us without as much as the name of the bill they transported across the building 
a month ago. It will be known in history as the Gorman-Brice Bill, vice the Wilson 
Bill, dead. Aye, dead on the field of dishonor. 

On all great questions which came before the House, Mr. Reed took 
an active part in the discussion. He was especially effective in what is 
termed the five-minute discussions. His information upon all subjects 
of legislation was full and comprehensive. His manner was aggres- 
sive, and usually aggravating. During his long service in the House 
before he became Speaker he served on several important committees, 
and it was in the committee room his influence was felt. He gave 
shape to much of the legislation when his party was in the majority. 
He did not oppose the war with Spain, but was antagonistic to the 
McKinley program after the war was over. 

After the ambition to be President fastened upon him, ill-feeling 
between him and Mr. Elaine sprang up. Reed wanted the nomination 
in 1892, but Elaine's entrance into the race forced Reed out of it. He 
also had a disagreement with President Harrison over some appoint- 
ments in Maine. The President listened to Elaine, his Secretary of 
State, and not to Speaker Reed ; hence, the Speaker became angry at 
the President and the Secretary. He frequently affirmed that had 
Blaine kept out of the race in 1892 he could have carried off the nomi- 
nation from Harrison, and was full of the belief that had he been 
nominated he would have been elected instead of Mr. Cleveland. He 
was dissatisfied in 1896 that he was not nominated instead of Mr. 
McKinley, but he gave Mr. McKinley his support during the campaign. 

It was while he was Speaker that he placed Mr. McKinley at the 
head of the great Committee on Ways and Means, a position that gave 
McKinley the opportunity to make for himself the reputation which 
finally swept him into the White House. As Speaker he made judicious 
selections on all the important committees, and in that was more suc- 
cessful than several of those who preceded him in that high office, and 
also of some who followed him, It is in the committee rooms that the 
major work of legislation is perfected, and when, under the rules, the 
Speaker had the naming of the committee members, his power over 
legislation was almost supreme. 

He was remarkable for his clear use of English. At college he took 
the high honor for excellency in English composition. Leaving college 
he gave four years to teaching, occupying his leisure hours in study- 
ing law. He became so well recognized as a teacher that he reached 
the grade of instructor in the Portland High School. About that time 
the war between the States called for the young men of the North to 
rally to the defense of the Union. Young Reed responded and was 
made Assistant Paymaster in the Navy. At the close of the war he 
returned to Portland and was admitted to the bar. In 1867 he was 


elected a member of the Maine House of Representatives, and served 
two terms. He was then elected to the State Senate, and while a mem- 
ber of that body was made Attorney General of the State. This office 
he resigned in 1873 to accept the position of City Solicitor for Port- 

All this time he took a deep interest in politics. He was ambitious, 
and feeling there was advancement ahead of him, kept an eye always 
on the public. In 1876 he was sent to Congress. The Hayes adminis- 
tration was just coming into power, with all the political troubles it 
brought to the Republican party. At that time there was a great raft 
of claims before Congress, rising out of the Civil War. One of the 
most famous cases was that of William and Mary College. A large 
sum was demanded for damages done during the war. When this 
claim came up for consideration, Mr. Reed made his first mark and 
scored his first trimuph as a congressional debater. 

He was one of the committee sent to investigate the election of 
Mr. Hayes, and on the floor of the House vigorously defended the use 
of United States marshals at the polls in the Southern States. He 
soon pushed forward into the first line of leaders of the Republican 
party in the House, but was not always in accord with the administra- 
tion. He gave his influence as Speaker against the resolution of war 
with Spain, and strenuously opposed the annexation of Porto Rico and 
the Philippines. But all that did not lessen him in the favor of his 
party. He was reelected to the Fifty-sixth Congress, but resigned 
without taking his seat. 


HAELES FBEDERICK CKISP Speaker of the House of Kepresenta- 
tives in the Fifty-second and Fifty-third Congresses. Born in 
Sheffield, England, January 29, 1845. Son of William H. and Eliza- 
beth Crisp. Common school education. Married, September, 1867, 
Miss Clara Bell Burton. Died in Atlanta, Georgia, October 28, 1896. 
Buried in Americus, Georgia. 

"A great public career has ended. One of the foremost public men 
of our country has been stricken down. One of the greatest parlia- 
mentary leaders of this age is no more. One of the shining lights of 
this House, whose splendid achievements have and ever will shed lus- 
ter upon it, is no longer with us. The recognized leader of this side of 
the House, who counseled and directed us, has departed and left us to 
mourn a loss which is irreparable. A great heart, warm, generous, 
kind, and magnetic, no longer pulsates. A mind, clear, strong, and 
masculine, of great depth and grasp, no longer gives us its scintillations 
of thought. A tongue of great eloquence and power, which has so 
often stirred and swayed this House, is now silent in death* A life in 


which can be traced much of shadow and shine, much of privation and 
much of triumph, inspiring in its success over difficulties, admirable 
in development and attained proportions, has terminated/' 

Such was Charles Frederick Crisp, as he was described by Repre- 
sentative Swanson on the day the House met in memory of him who 
had for so long been one of the leading members. It is a fair picture 
of the mental attainments of Mr. Crisp, and is not overdrawn, as his 
colleagues were unanimous in agreement. As a rule leadership in the 
House is a plant of slow growth, but Mr. Crisp, as the record discloses, 
reached the leadership of his party at a very early period of his con- 
gressional life. It was a leadership earned by superior abilities as a 
counselor and as a director. 

Both the father and mother of Mr. Crisp belonged to the theatrical 
profession, and enjoyed an enviable reputation. His brothers and 
sisters also followed in that profession, but Charles chose a different 
life. He was not a year old when his parents removed to America, 
choosing Savannah, Ga., as their home. There young Charles laid the 
foundation of an education as an attendant on the common schools. It 
was at a troublous time. Slavery was the absorbing topic, not in polit- 
ical circles alone, but it had invaded the churches, the school houses and 
other institutions of learning. Amid all this excitement young Crisp 
closely gave his mind to securing what education he could. It was not 
for long, however, for soon the storm of war burst, involving the 
whole country, and the English-born youth threw in his lot with the 
South, and, although scarcely sixteen years of age, enlisted, serving 
until he was captured and sent to the North as a prisoner of war. He 
must have served well for he held the rank of First Lieutenant at the 
time of his capture. 

He remained a prisoner of war until the surrender of the South 
brought the bloody conflict to an end. He had no large patrimony to 
fall back upon, but that did not greatly disturb him. He was full of 
ambition, and what was better, he was full of determination to succeed 
in life. His choice of a vocation was the practice of law. So intense 
was his application, and so acute was his grasp of mind that he was 
able in one year to master enough of that science to secure admission 
to practice. 

His success was immediate. He began the practice in Ellayille, and 
in 1872 he was appointed solicitor-general for the judicial district in 
which Ellaville was situated- This appointment was to fill a vacancy, 
but his success was such that the next year he was appointed for a 
full term. It was then but a short step to a judgeship, and In 1877 he 
was made a judge of the Superior Court of the circuit. He served on 
the bench for five years, winning the high respect and confidence of 
the members of the bar, and of the public generally. 

The testimony of those who practiced before him was that his mind 


was eminently judicial, and that his judgments were always based on 
justice. At that time Georgia was fast recovering from the disasters 
of the war, and many important questions were frequently before the 
courts, some of them involving the rights of the race that had lately 
been freed from slavery. In some places the feeling against the eman- 
cipated race was intense, and it may occasionally have influenced the 
courts, but so far as the record goes Judge Crisp never permitted that 
hostile feeling to sway him. 

He was elected to the Forty-eighth, and the six succeeding Con- 
gresses. He was a Democrat in political faith. He was but thirty- 
seven years of age, but had already given ten years to the service of 
the public. He was to enter upon a career that eventually gave him a 
national reputation, and to see him elevated to the second highest office 
in the Republic. Fourteen years as a Representative in Congress ; for 
twelve of those fourteen the acknowledged leader of his party, and 
for four of them as Speaker. The people of his State had just honored 
him with an election, by a very large majority, to a seat in the Sen- 
ate, when death came to him. 

It would be impossible in a sketch short as this must of necessity 
be to follow him closely through his congressional career. He had not 
completed his first term when he was accorded by his party col- 
leagues a place among the leaders. John G. Carlisle was Speaker of 
the House. Speaker Carlisle was an acute politician, quick to recog- 
nize the qualities of those with whom he came in contact. He saw in 
the new member from Georgia the qualities which go to make a leader, 
and he advanced him in committee assignments to such positions as to 
furnish him abundant opportunities to prove his worth. 

His first notable achievement was his report on the bill to establish 
the Interstate Commerce Commission, and his defense of that meas- 
ure. Those who have read the history of that important branch of the 
government administration will recall the long and bitter contest in the 
House and Senate over the measure providing for the Commission. In 
the House the direction of its proponents was left to Mr. Crisp. He 
was then serving his second term, and the fact that he was given the 
leadership on this important measure shows how quickly he had moved 
toward the front in the counsels of his party. The debate in the House 
was long and earnest. Representative Crisp displayed great parlia- 
mentary skill in defending the measure against the assaults of its op- 
ponents. He met the arguments of the other side in a masterly man- 
ner, developing unexpected powers as a debater. 

His aggressiveness in debate was exemplified during the discussion 
in the Fifty-first Congress of what was styled "The Force Bill/' The 
bill was aimed to extend the authority of the Government over elec- 
tions. It was especially aimed at the South. Mr. Crisp was one of its 
most determined assailants, and used all his powers of oratory, and his 


skill as a parliamentarian to defeat it. The bill finally passed the 
House, but was defeated in the Senate. 

What would a Congress be without a tariff discussion ? The tariff is 
one of the issues that never goes into hiding. One of the tariff meas- 
ures during Mr. Crisp's service in the House was the well-known Mc- 
Kinley bill. It was a tariff revision distinctively upward. The Demo- 
crats desired a revision definitely downward in tendency. The debate 
was long in the House. Every parliamentary trick known to the mem- 
bers was resorted to, so it became a contest of parliamentary skill as 
well as of oratory. The friends of the bill finally triumphed. The bill 
became a law, resulted in the temporary suspension of the Republican 
party from power in the government, and then elevated its champion 
to the Presidency of the Republic. In all that long debate Mr. Crisp 
was one of the most active of the opponents of the bill. 

Another important issue before Congress and the country at that 
time was that of the currency. The friends of silver were clamorous 
for a more extended use of that metal as a coin. Mr. Crisp was an 
earnest advocate of the free coinage of silver, and to that extent dif- 
fered with many of the leaders of his party, among them being Presi- 
dent Cleveland. The Fifty-first Congress was notable for the bitter 
fight to overthrow "Czar Reed" and his arbitrary method of counting 
a quorum. In this long and bitter parliamentary contest, which prac- 
tically lasted from the first day of the first session to the last day of 
the last session of this memorable Congress, Mr. Crisp was ever in 
the fore front. It began over the consideration of a contested election. 
An extract or two from the Congressional Record concerning some 
phases of this long controversy will not be without interest to the gen- 
eral reader. One of the points raised by Mr. Crisp was that there had 
been no vote of the House on the question of consideration raised by 
him, and he appealed from the ruling of the Speaker : 

The Speaker : The Chair declines to entertain the appeal. 

Mr, Crisp: Will the Chair give a reason for declining? 

The Speaker: The Chair gives as the reason the vote of the House. 

Mr. Crisp: Today or yesterday? 

The Speaker : The vote of the House taken just now. 

Mr. Crisp : Why, Mr. Speaker, this question has not been before 
the House today until now. There has been no vote of the House today 
upon this question. 

The Speaker: There has been a distinct vote of the House, sustain- 
ing the ruling of the Chair, that motions made for the purposes of 
delay are not in order. 

Mr. Crisp : I deny that you have the right to determine the purpose 
of my motion. 

The Speaker: The Chair does not undertake to determine the mo- 
tives of the gentleman from Georgia. 


Mr. Crisp: But you do undertake to determine the motive of my 
motion when you say that the vote of the House, deciding that a cer- 
tain other motion was dilatory, affects the motion I have made. 

The Speaker : The Chair thinks it is perfectly apparent. Nobody 
can doubt what the situation is, 

Mr. Crisp : The opinion of the Chair is not of any value to me. 
That is not the question. The opinion of the Chair cannot prevail as to 
what my motives are, and I appeal from your right to determine what 
my motives are. 

The Speaker: The Chair has put the question to the House, fully 
stating the views that would govern the Chair in its conduct of 

Mr. Crisp: The Chair has not. 

The Speaker: The gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Crisp) cannot be 
ignorant of the scenes which have transpired under his own eyes and 
occurred within the sound of his own ears, and the gentleman from 
Georgia knows perfectly well that the action of the House has covered 
his case. 

Mr. Crisp : The gentleman from Georgia does not know that, but 
the gentleman has no doubt that the presiding officer knows that the 
motion which the gentleman from Georgia makes is a proper parlia- 
mentary motion and that in every legislative body which has existence 
beyond one day it is within the power, and it is the right, of any mem- 
ber, when any measure is called up, to say: "I raise the question of 
consideration," which simply means, will the House now proceed to 
consider the question ? And, although the House might have a satis- 
factory reason for considering a question, it does not follow that the 
same reason will exist tomorrow. Therefore, the motion which I have 
made is in order on every legislative day, and it has never been held 
otherwise in this Chamber. No precedent can be found for any such 
ruling as that which the Chair has just made. 

The fight was on. The Speaker continued to decline to hear any 
motion he considered was dilatory in its effect. The fight continued 
during the entire term of Speaker Eeed, and was revived when Mr. 
Crisp himself occupied the Chair. No one has ever conscientiously 
believed that under the rules of the House, as they stood at that time, 
the rulings of Speaker Reed were not arbitrary and revolutionary in 
form. But they proved to be so necessary to enable the House to trans- 
act business, that the rules were changed under the Speakership of 
Mr. Crisp, and quorum-counting became no longer necessary. 

Mr. Crisp was an earnest partisan. He thoroughly believed that the 
political policies of the Democratic party were not only sound, but 
were for the best interest of all the people. In fact, if a man believes 
thoroughly in the rightfulness of any cause he naturally becomes a 
partisan in some degree. Partisanship does not of itself lead one to 


acts of Injustice to those who differ with him. So it was with Mr. 
Crisp, As ardent a partisan as he was, he ever yielded the right of 
others to differ with him. This he repeatedly exemplified in debates on 
the floor of the House, and in his rulings while Speaker. 

When the returns from the election made it certain that the Demo- 
crats would control the House in the Fifty-second Congress, the ques- 
tion as to who was to be Speaker agitated the Democrats. Mr. Mills 
had been prominent in past counsels ; had been chairman of the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means when Mr. Carlisle was Speaker, and that 
position had long been looked upon as the stepping stone to the Speak- 
er's Chair. Mr. Crisp had been the recognized floor leader of the 
party during the preceding session. When the party caucus was held 
several names were presented, and it required two or three days to 
reach a conclusion. The caucus finally named Mr. Crisp as its candi- 
date, and he was duly elected. He served two terms and was regarded 
at the time as one of the great Speakers the House has known, and 
later study of his administration has deepened that view. His first 
term was while Benjamin Harrison occupied the White House. His 
second term was under a President of Ms own party. As a Speaker he 
displayed his impartiality and his love of justice. 

He early discovered, however, that the sweets of the Speakership 
could be made bitter to the taste. He had worried Mr. Reed when he 
was Speaker, and now Mr. Reed was to be the torment of his life. Much 
of the happiness of Mr. Reed's life consisted of his power to trouble the 
waters for someone else. He never had such a supreme moment of 
happiness as he experienced when he could torment Mr. Crisp. Much 
to the disappointment of Mr. Reed, he failed to seriously disturb the 
equanimity of the new Speaker. He was a torment, and doubtless 
Speaker Crisp often felt the sting aimed at him, but he never made that 
patent to the House by any unseemly display. 

Mr. Crisp served two terms and then handed the Speakership back 
to Mr. Reed from whom he had wrested it. While he was Speaker the 
Governor of Georgia tendered him a seat in the United States Senate 
made vacant by the death of Senator Colquitt, but Mr. Crisp felt that 
his party required him to retain the Speakership. When he surren- 
dered the Speakership he stood before the people of Georgia for an 
election to the Senate, and won the coveted seat against Hoke Smith. 
It was a notable triumph, but Mr. Crisp was not destined to enjoy its 
fruit, for death came to him before he could enter the Senate. 

The education of Mr. Crisp was mostly what he gathered in the ac- 
tual contact with the duties of life. As was said of him by one of his 
colleagues, he "was born to an inheritance of struggle, without the ad- 
vantages of wealth or influence or great name, his native virtues, and 
these only, were the factors in the problem of his successful fortune. 
His education was only that of the common schools the common 


schools that so many times have been the grand universities productive 
of the highest type of American citizenship." 

This education obtained in the common schools he supplemented by 
hard and close study as the years went by. Experience was to him a 
great teacher ; the thoughts of others he studied with close attention ; 
the books he read aided him in obtaining a large supply of learning. 
He was ever and at all times a student. 

In the memorial services held by the House on receiving notice of the 
death of Mr. Crisp, Representative Catchings, of Mississippi, thus 
spoke of him : "The strong qualities which enabled him to grasp and 
retain the unchallenged leadership of his party in the House of Rep- 
resentatives, and which twice gave him the Speakership, manifested 
themselves in his boyhood, and steadily grew in potency and brilliancy 
up to the very hour of his death." Representative Richardson, of Ten- 
nessee, added this : "His was a changeless sincerity. He was never in 
disguise. He was the soul of honor. He had a contempt for every- 
thing low, mean, or sordid. Highly endowed as he was by nature and 
his own training with so many estimable traits, his influence over men 
was almost without limit. He had no compromises to make with 
that which was wrong, and held with tenacity to that which he believed 
to be right. He was warm-hearted, genial, and social in his nature. 
He enjoyed the companionship of friends, and made it both pleasant 
and agreeable for them to be with him. High-toned, manly and dig- 
nified in manner and conduct, he treated everyone, both low and high, 
in fashion becoming a gentleman, and expected like treatment in re- 
turn. He was in every respect a most lovable man." 

As a debater Mr. Crisp ranked among the strongest of his time. He 
sometimes bubbled over with humor, yet his propensity in that direc- 
tion was never permitted to break the force of his argument. As a 
rule he was courteous to those against him, depending upon the logic 
of his argument to convince his hearers. He was especially strong 
when economic questions were under discussion. He was broad in his 
statesmanship and never permitted himself to be hampered by narrow 
sectional divisions. 

His mind was eminently logical and judicial He was never swayed 
by the purely sentimental When he intended to join in a debate on 
any major question before the House, he carefully studied the subject, 
looking at it from every point of view. Possessing a thorough knowl- 
edge of the subject, he never felt fear or hesitancy in meeting the most 
able of the other side. Pure in his private life, sincere, honorable, up- 
right m the services he gave to the public, he was of the highest type 
of American citizenship. 



DAVID BREMNER HENDERSON Speaker of the House of Representa- 
tives in the Fifty-sixth and Fifty-seventh Congresses. Born in 
Old Deer, Scotland, March 14, 1840. Son of Thomas and Barbara 
(Bremner) Henderson. Educated in the common schools and at the 
Upper Iowa University. Married, March 4, 1856, Miss Augusta A. 
Fox. Died at Dubuque, Iowa, February 25, 1906. 

Born in Scotland, this distinguished Speaker of the House of Rep- 
resentatives was cut off from all opportunity to reach the highest office 
in this country ; hence, was never troubled with the ambition that has 
proved so fatal to many American politicians. He was but a lad six 
years old when his parents came to the United States. They first set- 
tled in Winnebago county, 111., but remained there only a few years. 
Their new choice of a home was in Fayette county, Iowa. There he 
attended the local schools, and finally entered the Upper Iowa Univer- 

When the war between the States came, young Henderson promptly 
enlisted in the Union army. He served with Grant at Belmont, Fort 
Henry, and Fort Donelson, being seriously wounded at Fort Donelson. 
He recovered in time to take part in the siege of Corinth, where he 
lost a leg. 

Returning to Iowa he studied law. He was appointed Collector of 
Internal Revenue for the Third Iowa district. He held this office until 
1869, when he resigned to accept an appointment as United States 
Attorney for the District of Iowa. JDuring his incumbency of this 
latter office he made many friends in all parts of the State, and won 
a high reputation as a campaign speaker. He resigned this office in 
1871 and devoted himself to private practice. In 1880 he was elected 
to the Forty-eighth Congress, and was reelected to the succeeding nine 

On first entering Congress, Mr. Henderson did not loom up early 
as one of the leaders, but he slowly grew in the estimation of his col- 
leagues until he was regarded as a promising candidate for Speaker. 
Mr. Reed, however, was the outstanding figure for Speaker, and as 
long as he remained in Congress he was sure of that position when 
the Republicans were in power; so it was not until Mr. Reed suddenly 
announced his intention to resign the seat in the Fifty-seventh Con- 
gress to which he had been elected that there came an opportunity for 
Mr. Henderson. 

Even then it was not certain he would come off winner, as one or 
two others aspired to follow the "Czar." Mr. Henderson was early 
in the field, and after a sharp contest he won the caucus nomination. 
It was not an easy task to- follow such a Speaker as Mr. Reed had 
proved himself to be. He was aggressive, forceful, wielding his power 


with an iron hand. It is true that the House had grown somewhat 
restless under Mr. Reed's domination, and there were members of his 
own party who were willing to welcome a change. 

Mr. Henderson determined not to follow closely in the footsteps of* 
Mr. Reed, but to adopt a milder and more conciliatory course. Doubt- 
less he was led to this because he recognized the humor of the House 
was changing in the direction of divesting the Speaker of some of the 
power he possessed over legislation. Of the situation and of Mr. Hen- 
derson's intentions, William Wolff Smith, a Washington correspondent, 
gives the Mowing in a sketch of Mr. Henderson written for 0. 0. 
Stealey's "Twenty Years in the Press Gallery" : 

The House was ready to go to the other extreme and reduce the Speakership 
to the position of a mere presiding officer, as contemplated by the Constitution, 
and the power of the Committee on Rules was threatened, and even its abolition 
was urged. To restrain this reactionary movement toward self-government, with 
the turmoil attending the effort of three hundred and fifty members to have an 
equal voice in conducting public business, and at the same time to avoid the ap- 
pearance of desiring to play the role of "Czar/* was Henderson's task, and he was 
thoroughly cognizant of the fact that if he governed with a strong hand, he would 
be accused of aping his predecessor, while a departure from the established policy 
would be hailed as a sign of weakness. 

So I gathered from my first interview with him after his election was certain, 
and this impression was confirmed later in many informal conversations. It was 
at the close of that interview he announced that he intended to avoid, if possible, 
all appearance of attempting to dictate to the House, and that he wished to be 
the servant rather than the master of that body. Whether he adhered to this 
policy may be open to question, but, in my opinion, he did so as far as circum- 
stances permitted, although the appearances might have led to the contrary con~ 
elusion. . , . 

Technically speaking, legislation in the House is in the hands of the three 
majority members of the Committee on Rules, the controlling influence naturally 
being that of the Speaker, who is chairman. But Henderson sought to indirectly 
restore power to the members without affecting the status of the Committee on 
Rules, or impairing its prestige or privileges as a court of last resort. This he 
undertook to do by organizing the chairmen of the committees into a sort of 
''Cabinet." . . . 

An innovation which made a stir at the time, and which gave weight to the 
charge that he was attempting to "out-Czar" Reed, has a simple explanation, and 
the fact that it remains engrafted on the procedure of the House justifies the 
assumption that his action was correct. Reed maintained the pleasant fiction of 
recognizing members on the floor as they demanded recognition under the rule 
requiring them to arise and address the Chair. Thus his desk in the "morning 
hour" would be surrounded by a circle of members clamoring "Mr* Speaker!" in 
the hope of catching his eye. Reed would calmly survey the crowd and then ree- 
ognize first one on one side, then one on the other, the whole proceedings having 
the semblance of being real. As a matter of fact, Mr. Reed had been privately 
sought beforehand and recognized only those with whom previous arrangements 
had been made. 

When he came in, Mr. Henderson saw no reason for maintaining- this pleas- 
antry, and calmly notified the members that in the future they would arrange with , 
him for recognition and he would grant it according to the schedule after the pro- 

Fifty-eighth, Fifty-ninth, Sixtieth and Sixty-first Congresses 


posed bills 3aad been scanned and approved. Tlie result was, the members remained 
in, their seats and were decorously recognized in turn. While the effect was the 
same, yet the absence of the .crowd around the desk ostensibly seeking recognition 
unpleasantly emphasized the control of the House by the Speaker through the 
exercise of the power of recognition. 

He served four years as Speaker, and while there were some criti- 
cisms and some faultfinding, he retained his popularity with the mem- 
bers and was looked upon as a most genial presiding officer. While 
Speaker he took little part in the debates of the House, even when that 
body was in Committee of the Whole. In fact, he had never taken a 
very prominent place as a debater. His administration was clean, and 
very little tainted with partisanship. Personally, he was very popular 
with the members of the House and with the other official life in 
Washington. At the close of the Fifty-seventh Congress he suddenly, 
and without giving any reasons, declined a renomination as a member 
of the House. 


T OSBFH GUKNEY CANNON Speaker of the House of Representatives 
J in the Fifty-eighth, Fifty-ninth, Sixtieth and Sixty-first Congresses. 
Born in New Gardens, Guilf ord County, North Carolina, May 7, 1886. 
Son of Dr. Horace F, and Gullelman (Hollingsworth) Cannon. Com- 
mon school education. Married in 1861, Miss Mary Scovel Reed. 
Died at Danville, 111., March 12, 1926. 

Of the several thousand men who at one time or another have occu- 
pied seats in the National House of Representatives, none was ever 
more deeply loved by his colleagues than was Joseph Gurney Cannon, 
There have been among the members of the House a number of men 
more brilliant than Mr. Cannon, many more learned, and others pos- 
sessing greater oratorical powers, but not one with a greater capacity 
to love everybody, or with superior qualities to inspire love than the 
man who for more than forty years, with but one slight intermission 
of two years, held a seat as a member of the House of Representatives 
from an Illinois district. 

What was written of Abou Ben Adhm could have been written of 
Joseph G* Cannon, or "Uncle Joe," as he was familiarly and lovingly 
called for so many years, "One who loves his fellow man." He was 
twenty-five times nominated for Representative in Congress by the 
people of one district. Of these he won twenty-three times, losing 
twice, one the first race he made, and the other in 1912, when the Re- 
publicans bolted from Mr. Taft His constituents quickly repented 
and two years later sent him once more to represent them. 

Although he w&s born in North Carolina, Mr. Cannon was, in all 
essential particulars, the product of the great Middle West, that section 


which gave to the country so many great men, such as Abraham Lin- 
coln, Stephen A, Douglas, David Davis, John A. Logan, Oliver P. 
Morton, Thomas A. Hendricks, U. S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Allen 
G. Thurman, Abram A. Garfield, John Sherman, William Howard 
Taft, and Warren G. Harding. 

When Joseph was a lad his parents removed to Indiana, and there he 
began the life of toil as a clerk in a small store, and there he got his 
first school education. Later his parents removed to Illinois, locating 
at Tuscola. There Joseph studied law, and on being admitted to the 
bar began the practice of his profession, but later he removed to Dan- 
ville, which was ever afterward his home. He was successful in two 
ways winning a lucrative practice, and a popularity with the people. 
His first office was that of State's Attorney, an office he held for seven 

He was elected to the Forty-third and the eight succeeding Con- 
gresses as a Republican. He was defeated for reelection to the Fifty- 
second Congress, but was a successful candidate for the Fifty-third, 
and to all succeeding Congresses to and including the Sixty-sixth. He 
was Speaker for four terms, and they were strenuous terms, finally 
resulting in a partial overthrow of the power of the Speaker by a 
change in the rules. 

He was at all times a "Stalwart" Republican in politics, a "Stand- 
patter/* as they were sometimes called. He believed in the political 
principles as taught and advocated by that party. He was a partisan, 
but while Speaker did not let partisanship run away with his sober 
judgment and love of impartial justice. 

When he entered Congress General Grant was beginning his second 
term. He served under the administration of nine Presidents. During 
that long service many great questions were before Congress* The 
tariff is , always there, but there have been important questions 
other than the tariff. The last days of reconstruction of the Southern 
States were passing when he began his congressional career. The 
public debt caused by the Civil War was to be taken care of, pensions 
for soldiers and sailors were to be provided. Then came the great 
controversy over the election of Hayes. On all these he stood with 
his party, taking frequent part in the debates, slowly forging to the 
front as one of the leaders. In those early days of his congressional 
life the currency was frequently a matter of dispute, and what was 
termed "Greenbackism" threatened for a time to sweep the country. 
Finally the money question was temporarily settled by a return to 
specie payments on the part of the Government. 

With Mr. Cannon the honor of the country came first ; its pledges to 
those who had purchased its bonds must be fully kept. Among other 
positions he held in the House was that of member of the Committee on 
Postoffices and Post Roads. As a member of that committee, and 


chairman of one of its sub-commitlees, he performed meritorious serv- 
ices in the interests of the public. He rewrote the postal laws, making 
many and important changes in the existing system. He introduced 
the system of newspapers paying postage by the pound rate, thus 
relieving the subscriber from the annoyance of having to pay postage 
on each paper or magazine received. This new regulation gave an 
enormous impetus to th& circulation of newspapers and magazines. It 
was, in fact, a remodeling of the postal service, making it what it 
was originally intended to be, the medium for the dissemination of 

He also rewrote the law against the circulation of obscene literature 
through the mails. In the same connection he barred, by law, the use 
of the mails to advance the sale of lottery tickets. These regulations he 
defended before the House in a series of short but pungent speeches. 
It may be said here that Mr. Cannon never indulged in lengthy 
speeches during his entire service in the House. He preferred short, 
snappy talks, in which he proved to be an adept. He always carefully 
prepared himself with facts, figures, and statistics on whatever sub- 
ject he proposed to discuss, and then went at the matter in a business- 
like way. In the arguments on his new postal regulations he convinced 
the House that he was a foeman to be carefully handled. 

When Mr. Randall became Speaker he changed his Committee on 
Appropriations so as to enable him to give Mr. Cannon a place on it. 
He had recognized the qualities of the Illinois member, and felt that 
on the Appropriations Committee he would do good service for the 
country. He was not disappointed. Mr. Cannon at once made himself 
familiar with the needs of each department their needs, not their 
wants, for the wants of a Government department are endless. They 
are like the Horse Leech's daughters, continually crying, "Give! Give!" 
Their needs never equaled their wants. Mr, Cannon made himself 
fully aware of that fact, and made every effort to keep the appropria- 
tions down to their needs, ignoring their wants. Government depart- 
ments are built on the order to spend money, and Congress "proposes," 
but the departments "disposes." Mr. Cannon later became chairman 
of that most important committee, and while he was disposed to deal 
liberally with the departments, he also desired to hold a check upon 
them, and finally did accomplish a great deal in that direction. 

He was recognized by his colleagues as the best posted member re- 
garding the supply bills. He was never called the "Watch-Dog of the 
Treasury," as was Holman, of Indiana, but he kept an active and in- 
telligent eye on the funds of the treasury, and how they were to be 
used for the purposes of the government. It was another Democratic 
Speaker who gave him another place of importance. Speaker Carlisle 
placed him on the Rules Committee, where he was retained by Reed 
when that man of iron became Speaker. In the tariff debates that had 


occurred with regularity whenever Congress was in session, Mr, Can- 
non had always taken a prominent part, and always supporting the 
views announced in the Republican platforms. He was an ardent 
friend of the protection theory, and kept himself fully posted as to the 
various schedules and items which came up for discussion. 

On the Rules, Committee under Speaker Reed he joined with McKin- 
ley in mapping out the tariff program which finally resulted in the 
adoption of the McKinley bill. He was the spokesman of the Commit- 
tee on Rules in all the arguments before the House of the Fifty-first 
Congress, and well did he do his work. So well, in fact, as to secure 
the adoption of the rules offered without material change or amend- 
ment. He supported, most vigorously, Mr. Reed's quorum-counting 
program. It was this program which threw the House into bedlam, 
frequently reaching the verge of riot. 

Under the old rules it frequently occurred that a minority was able 
to stop all legislation by sitting in their seats and refusing or declining 
to vote on a roll call, thus showing that no quorum was present. The 
story of how Speaker Reed, amid abuse and contumely, changed all 
that by simply counting those present, or enough of them to make a 
quorum, is well known to all readers of political history* It was a 
drastic departure from all previous actions, and was resisted with the 
utmost vehemence by the Democrats, but the Republican members 
stood by the Speaker, and after a time the new rule was accepted by 
both parties. In all this confusion Mr. Cannon was among the fore- 
most supporters of the Speaker. 

On one occasion, in replying to a speech by Mr, Crisp, Mr. Cannon 
made one of his most forcible speeches. He closed as follows ; 

"I say that a majority under the Constitution is entitled to legislate, 
and that, if a contrary practice has grown up, such practice is unre- 
publican, undemocratic, against sound policy, and contrary to the 
Constitution. And I am here to assist in upholding the Constitution. 
If the minority is to rule, the Republic has ceased to exist and in its 
place is an aristocracy. 

"Sir, everywhere, from farm and factory, from school and college, 
sixty millions of people in the Republic join in the demand that, a 
quorum of the House being present, the American House of Repre- 
sentatives shall perform its function. Therefore, I shall vote to sustain 
the decision of the Speaker." 

Mr. Cannon came to be recognized as an authority on all questions 
of finance that arose in debate, and he took an active part in all such 
debates. He was very close to President Benjamin Harrison, who 
often consulted with him, and relied largely upon his judgment on all 
financial matters. He thoroughly knew the history of all major legisla- 
tion, and was a well of information to the President. 

Silver was one of the absorbing questions from the date of the 


repeal of the Sherman Purchasing Act. The friends of silver were 
determined to bring that metal into greater use as a coin, and they 
were not only shrewd, but they were industrious in propaganda work. 
In it they displayed a knowledge of political maneuvering which came 
near winning for them a great victory. In his second term, President 
Cleveland, ably seconded by Mr. Carlisle, his Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, was able to force a repeal of the Act requiring monthly purchases 
of bullion to be stored in the vaults of the treasury. This was a check, 
for the time, to the silver advocates, but they were not dismayed. 
The cry arose at once for the unlimited coinage of silver at the 16 to 1 
ratio. On that issue the country went to the great political battle of 

In that campaign Mr. Cannon did heroic work for his party, sustain- 
ing, with all his force, the single gold standard as declared by the Re- 
publicans. For a time it looked as if the silverites would win, and a 
financial panic was narrowly averted. Mr. Cannon was returned to 
his seat in the House by an increased majority. Mr. McKinley was 
hardly well settled in his seat as President before trouble with Spain 
loomed up. 

This had been brewing during the administrations of Presidents 
Harrison and Cleveland, in his second term. In the agitation of the 
Cuban question Mr, Cannon was ranked as a conservative, even after 
the explosion which destroyed the United States man-of-war Maine, 
in the harbor at Havana. He did not want war ; war was costly in 
blood and treasure, and he desired to avoid that dernier resort of na- 
tions. He was for maintaining the honor of the country, but hoped 
war might be avoided. When it came its success was largely acceler- 
ated by the action of the Committee on Appropriations under the 
leadership of Mr. Cannon. 

The American merchant marine had almost wholly disappeared from 
the seas, and there were not enough American ships to transport the 
necessary troops to Cuba and the Philippines. Mr. Cannon reported a 
bill placing in the hands of the President $50,000,000 for the purposes 
of national defense, including the purchase and arming of ships sailing 
under other than the American flag. The promptness with which the 
bill was reported and acted upon had a two-fold result. It enabled the 
Government to enter the struggle on fair terms, and at the same time 
was a warning to other nations against any interference on their part. 
In every question arising during the war Mr. Cannon was the earnest 
supporter of the President. 

Having become involved in the war, he was ready to go the full 
length. Men and money he was ever ready to vote. He had but one 
object, to win, and to win at the speediest possible moment. In this he 
was no more patriotic than others in both political parties, but being at 


the head of the Committee on Appropriations he had more opportuni- 
ties to show his devotedness than fell to some of the others. 

Of his course on all matters coming before the House, one who knew 
him well, and who had ample opportunity to watch his career, thus 
wrote : "Mr. Cannon never prepared a set speech on any great ques- 
tion which could be considered a great contribution to our political lit- 
erature. And yet the pages of the Congressional Eecord for the last 
thirty years show that he was ever present and ever active in the 
debates on all great questions that came before the House of Repre- 
sentatives during those years. Mr. Cannon has always been a parti- 
san and a fighter in Congress, but he has never carried his partisanship 
beyond the development of a party policy of government as to finance, 
revenue, and other essentials of government by party. And he has 
never opposed a good measure because it did not come from his party, 
or because it was backed by a political opponent. On the other hand, 
he has never looked to see whether friends or opponents were backing 
the bill which he regarded as vicious, for no personal or political 
friend could hold him back from fighting such a bill. It is this quality 
of fighting, on the part of Mr. Cannon, which won the confidence and 
approbation of all parties and all factions in Congress, which was so 
well exemplified on the closing day of the Fifty-eighth Congress, when 
all united in a demonstration of good will and fraternal remembrance 
by presenting him a 'Loving Cup' and the Thanks of the House of 

Mr. Cannon's name had been many times mentioned for the Speaker- 
ship before he was finally nominated for that office by his party friends 
in the Fifty-eighth Congress. He had then been a member of the 
House for thirty consecutive years. During that service he had seen 
come to the White House: Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, 
Harrison, Cleveland again, and then McKinley and Roosevelt. What a 
procession of great men ! He had served during the Speakership of 
Elaine, Kerr, Randall, Keifer, Carlisle, R,eed, Crisp and Henderson, 
and now he was to occupy that exalted position for four terms. 

In a number of respects they were strenuous terms, requiring all 
the tact and good humor of the Speaker to prevent serious outbreaks. 
Party politics ran high. It required but little to arouse the House to 
partisan warfare. Speaker Cannon had been through the great strug- 
gle of Speaker Reed to force the House to transact the business of the 
public, and through the fight which compelled the Democrats under 
the Speakership of Crisp to adopt the rules of Reed which they had 
fought with such vigor and angry passions, and was, before he finally 
left the Speaker's chair, to undergo one of his own. The contest re- 
ferred to occurred in his last term, and brought about a disruption for 
the time of the Republican party, the defeat of Taf t, and the election of 
Wilson as President. 


This fight was engineered and directed by Champ Clark, one of the 
shrewdest politicians the House has ever counted among its members, 
and who was to follow Mr. Cannon in the Speakership for four terms. 
From the organization of the House in 1789 the Speaker had possessed 
the prerogative of naming the committees. It was a dangerous power, 
giving the Speaker a leverage by which he could almost dictate the 
legislation of the House. It had its drawbacks, for there were sure to 
be some disappointed ones, who would sulk through the session, 
thwarting the Speaker when that was possible. This disappointment 
had been growing under Reed and Cannon, and Mr. Clark, taking note 
of it, conceived he saw an opportunity to divide the Republicans into 
two permanent factions, which would inure to the benefit of the Demo- 
crats, if properly handled. 

No better man could be found among the Democrats to give direc- 
tion to this movement than Mr. Clark. He fostered the growing dis- 
content among the Republicans, quietly declaring the rules ought to be 
changed in at least two important particulars. The power of appoint- 
ing committee should be taken away from the Speaker, and he should 
be deprived of his place as chairman of the Committee on Rules, He 
condoled with the disappointed ones, but never let it be known to them 
that through their dissatisfaction he expected to work out a great 
victory for his party. When everything was ready and he had obtained 
the written pledge to stand by him of enough discontented Republicans 
to make success certain, he opened the fight. 

It was, at times, a merry fight. At other times it was an angry dis- 
pute, but Mr. Clark clung to his appointed task. It went on for sev- 
eral days. It was called, by its advocates, "a fight against Cannonism," 
when, in fact, it was a fight against a condition that had existed from 
the first Congress. Enough of the "insurgents," as the Regulars called 
them, joined with the Democrats to overthrow the old order of things, 
and to change the Speaker to a mere presiding officer. 

But that was not the end. As Mr. Clark had calculated, the revolt- 
ing Republicans became so angered by the denunciations heaped upon 
them by the Regulars that they began forming a new party, calling 
themselves "Progressives." At first this was only a wing of the Re- 
publican party, but before harmony was once more established it had 
branched out into an independent party, nominating candidates for 
about all the offices, and fighting the regular organization with as 
much vigor as they did the Democrats. 

The rupture came to a head in the Republican National Convention 
of 1912. Taft was the candidate of the Regulars. The Progressives 
bolted and nominated Mr. Roosevelt. It resulted in an overwhelming 
victory for the Democrats. In one thing Mr. Clark was disappointed. 
He had fondly expected to be the recipient of the victory he had or- 
ganized, but the coveted nomination went to Mr. Wilson* 


Of Mr. Cannon's actions during the contest for a change in the 
rules Mr. Clark says : "It must, in ordinary justice, be written down 
that Mr. Speaker Cannon, throughout that bitter contest, bore himself 
with the utmost dignity and decorum, never appearing to better ad- 
vantage in his life." 

One result flowing from the maneuvering of Mr. Clark and the for- 
mation of the Progressive party remains to be noted. The Progres- 
sives ran candidates for Congress in a number of districts, among 
them being the district represented by Mr. Cannon, The fight made 
on him was very vindictive, resulting in dividing the Republican vote, 
letting in a Democrat. Two years later, however, Mr. Cannon was 
again triumphant. On the 7th of May, 1916, Mr. Cannon reached 
his eightieth birthday. It was made a great occasion by his colleagues. 
A great dinner was given him on the occasion, attended by every mem- 
ber of the House, and most of the Senators, also by high officials of the 
Government. Speeches were made and toasts given. Representative 
Rodenberg, one of his Illinois colleagues, among other things, said: 

"If there be one man who has steadfastly pursued the path of public 
duty, and who, at all times and under, all circumstances, in good and 
ill report, has had the superb courage to give expression to honest con- 
viction, that man is he whom we delight to honor today, the grand old 
hero of a thousand legislative battles, Joseph G. Cannon, of Illinois/' 

A Congressional career of forty-five years is most remarkable, and 
when to its length can be added that no stain ever rested on his name, 
nor was his honesty ever challenged, it places Joseph Gurney Cannon 
among the great men of the country. As a legislator he was wise and 
prudent; as Speaker of the House he never let his partisanship control 
his rulings. He was uniformly courteous and kind, and when the fight 
came for the change in the rules, it was not a fight against Mr. Can- 
non, personally, but one against existing conditions which in a free 
country had become intolerable. The great change in the procedure in 
the House began when Speaker Reed insisted on counting a quorum, 
thereby compelling the House to transact the business before it, and 
when the Speaker was finally deprived of the power of naming the 
committees it placed the House far in advance as a legislative body. 

CHAMP CLARK, Missouri 
Sixty-second, Sixty-third, Sixty-fourth and Sixty-fifth Congresses 



CLAKK Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 
Sixty-second, Sixty-third, Sixty-fourth and Sixty-fifth Congresses. 
Born on a farm near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, March 7, 1850. Son 
of John Hampton and Althea Jane (Beauchamp) Clark. Educated at 
Transylvania College, Kentucky, and Bethany College, Pennsylvania. 
Married December 14, 1881, Miss Genevieve Davis Bennett. Died in 
Washington, D. C., March 2, 1921. 

In boyhood the lot of Champ Clark, one of the greatest of American 
legislators, was that of toil on the farm, while ambitious for steadily 
better things, yet he rose until he was four times chosen to the third 
highest office in the Government, and only through what he declared 
to be the "vile and malicious slanders" of another leader of his party 
failed to reach the highest office in the gift of the American people, 
for none can doubt that had he been nominated by the Democratic 
party in Baltimore in 1912 he would have been triumphantly elected 

The name given him by his parents was James Beauchamp Clark. 
He reduced it himself to the form by which he is known in the his- 
tory of the country. Of this he says in his most delightful book: "I 
made up my mind that I would not keep a name which was owned by 
so many other people. I first lopped off the 'James/ but that left me 
with a name which nobody but a Frenchman could pronounce cor- 
rectly, and Americans pronounced it in half a dozen different ways, all 
wrong. I would have liked very much to retain it, as it was my 
mother's name- It means 'fair field' and is a beautiful name, but it 
could not be pronounced in this country correctly. By the way, Camp- 
bell is the same name as Beauchamp, Camp and Champ mean the 
sam^ thing, being the old latin word campus, and belle is the feminine 
of beau. I cut Beauchamp in the middle and retained the last half." 

His father was originally a carriage and buggy maker, but he made 
no effort to bring his young son up in that occupation. In his "Quar- 
ter Century of American Politics" he says of his father: "He was a 
good carriage and buggy maker, a good singingmaster, a good dentist, 
a good Democrat, a good Christian, a good citizen/ ' As a business 
man he was not successful, so his children, of whom there were three, 
could receive but little help from him in securing an education. He 
assisted so far as he could, but that was only in a desultory way. Of 
him the subject of this sketch said: "If I have achieved anything 
worth mentioning in this life, I owe most of it to him, for he was con- 
stantly dinning into my ears: 'Get an education; take care of your 
health, develop your physical and mental constitution/ " 

In the days when Clark was growing up Kentucky had no child- 
labor law, for it is recorded that his father hired him out to a farmer 


when Champ was only eight years old. He worked on the farm for 
several years, getting what education he could, and at the same time 
developing physically and mentally. Clark grasped after learning, and 
eagerly read every book he could lay his hands on. Among the books, 
so he says, that his father obtained for him was Wirt's "Life of 
Patrick Henry." It is a book that has aroused the ambition of many 
a boy, and it did this with young Clark. "That book determined me," 
he says, "to be a lawyer and a Congressman before I had ever seen a 
lawyer, a law book, a courthouse, or a congressman." 

He did become a lawyer, and a great lawyer ; he became a Congress- 
man, and one of the greatest the country has known. Beading that 
book led him to reading the Bible. In his "Quarter of a Century of 
American Politics" he says: "Of all the compliments ever paid me by 
the newspapers since I have been in Congress, the one I value most is 
to the effect that I quote the Bible more frequently and more accu- 
rately than any other public man in a quarter of a century." His 
father made him a present of a little book bound in red cloth, contain- 
ing the Articles of Confederation, The Declaration of Independence, 
The Constitution of the United States, and Washington's Farewell Ad- 
dress. This little book he valued very highly. He said; "I believe 
that those three books the Bible, Wirt's "Life of Patrick Henry," 
and my little red book did more to influence my life than all the 
other books that I have read put together." 

His farm work ended when he earned twenty-four dollars for twelve 
days' labor in harvest. He expended that money in going to school 
It was during these parlous days in Kentucky when the people were 
divided, some fighting for the Union and some fighting for its destruc- 
tion. Yet amid it all young Clark managed to pick up enough educa- 
tion to enable him to become a teacher at the age of fifteen. Labor 
on a farm during the summer and fall, teaching during the winter 
months, with some of his pupils older than himself, Clark never lost 
sight of the end he aimed at to be a lawyer and a member of Con- 

After a time he was able to enter Transylvania College, Before 
this, however, he clerked in a store for a few months. Merchandising 
was not to his taste, and he soon gave up his employment* In 1867 
he became a student at the university. He remained there for three 
years, teaching school during the summer vacations. He records that 
with what he could earn and with the assistance of his father and sister 
he could scrape together only about two dollars a week for his necessi- 
ties at the college a rather small sum for such a case, yet small as it 
was, it sufficed. He did not remain at that university to complete the 
course. In the latter part of 1870 he became involved in an alterca- 
tion with a fellow-student over a trivial matter. A fight resulted, 
and in the fight Clark got hold of an old revolver and shot at his 


antagonist. The shot went wild. So did the faculty, for they expelled 
him. He went home and taught school. Some two years afterward 
the faculty sent him a written invitation to return. This the young 
man indignantly declined. Instead he went to Bethany College, in 
Pennsylvania, and was graduated in 1873. He was at once tendered 
the position as president of Marshall College, in West Virginia, which 
he gladly accepted. He was then but twenty-three years of age. 
Doubtless he was the youngest college president in the country. 

He tells an amusing story about how he was so fortunate as to 
obtain, this presidency, with its salary of twelve hundred dollars per 
annum. His standing at Bethany had received some newspaper noto- 
riety, which attracted the attention of one of the trustees of Marshall 
College, who asked Clark to make application for the vacancy. He 
concluded his application with these words: "I am a native of Ken- 
tucky, over six feet in height, weigh one hundred and seventy-four 
pounds; have just graduated at Bethany College with highest honors; 
am a Democrat in politics, a Cambellite in religion, and a Master 

At the end of his first year he resigned the presidency and entered 
the Cincinnati Law School. There he graduated at the head of his 
class. Completing his law course, the next thing was to select a place 
where he could put his lately acquired knowledge to use in paving the 
way to that congressional seat he still kept in mind. He had as a 
fellow-student a young man from Kansas, who had been a practicing 
attorney, and was at college only to add to his knowledge. This fellow- 
student offered to divide his practice with him if he would go to Fre- 
donia, Kansas. On his way to Fredonia he stopped off at Emporio to 
visit a college friend* That friend convinced him that Wichita was a 
better place to locate than Fredonia ; so to Wichita he went. He did 
not like Wichita. In fact, he did not like Kansas, so he turned his face 
eastward. He finally landed at Louisiana, Mo., as a teacher, or, rather, 
as assistant superintendent of the schools of that place. He bought a 
newspaper on credit and became an editor. At the end of his first 
year as editor he resold his paper to the party from whom he had 
purchased it, and became actively interested in the practice of his 

He was quickly successful in securing a fair share of the business. 
He was, in turn, city attorney for Bowling Green, assistant county 
attorney for four years, county attorney for the same length of time. 
He was ardently interested in politics, and in 1888 was elected to the 
Missouri legislature. He took pride in later years in the fact that as 
a member of the Legislature he was the author of the law which in- 
troduced the Australian ballot system into that State, and of the Mis- 
souri Anti-trust Law. 


Deeply interested as he was in politics, he did not neglect his pro- 
fession, and continually added to his reputation as an able and success- 
ful attorney. His two years as a member of the State Legislature had 
widened and extended his acquaintance with the people of the State, 
and had given him a place among the leaders of his party. In 1890 
he sought the party nomination for Congress. He failed of reaching 
his heart's desire, but came nearer defeating his opponent than it was 
thought possible when he began his campaign. Two years later he 
again sought the nomination, with the same opponent as in 1890. 

It was a hard struggle, the campaign lasting from March to the last 
day of August. Such was the feeling that both candidates went armed 
at all times, expecting that before the contest was over a shooting 
scrape would occur. In this race Clark was successful and became a 
member of the Fifty-third Congress on the day that Grover Cleveland 
was inaugurated President of the United States for the second time, 
From almost the day of his entrance he took an active part in all the 
proceedings. He established a reputation as a debater of more than 
ordinary strength, and as a most industrious worker in committees, 

He was a Democrat in politics, and ever stood as the champion of 
the policies of that party as they were outlined in the platform adopted 
by the convention. In his service many great matters were before 
Congress and the country. In the discussion of all those which came 
before Congress, Mr. Clark took an active interest. He displayed 
remarkable shrewdness as a party leader in the House, often holding 
his party back from making political blunders, and at other times tak- 
ing advantage of the blunders of the other party, so as to increase the 
prestige of his own party before the people. Mr. Cleveland was Presi- 
dent, and there was an almost constant warfare between him and his 
party in Congress. Silver coinage and the tariff were perplexing ques- 
tions. Mr. Clark did not always agree with the President on matters 
of policy, but he was ever a loyal Democrat. 

For several sessions he was a member of the great Committee on 
Ways and Means, and had much to do in leading his co-Democrats on 
the committee in the right way of party action. He was a frequent 
speaker, and very skillful in getting his speeches in at a time when 
they would have the most effect. In his delightful book he gives one 
instance of how he beat the time limit on one important question. The 
only time he could get for a set speech was at a Saturday night ses- 
sion, and he did not want to talk to an empty hall. There is a five- 
minute rule in the House, and Clark determined to take advantage of 
that rule. He would get the floor and for five minutes discuss one 
proposition. Getting the floor at another time, he would discuss an- 
other part of the pending measure. He kept this up until he had cov- 
ered the whole question, and then inserted his dozen five-minute 
speeches in the Congressional Record as one speech. 


His broad grasp of public questions, his comprehensive mind, his 
shrewdness in party management made him a genuine tower of 
strength to his party, without making enemies in the ranks of the 
opposition. His shrewdness in management was demonstrated by the 
way he led the fight against what was unwarrantably called "Cannon- 
ism" in the House. By his shrewdness and tact in that fight he accom- 
plished all he expected, for, as he has claimed, it divided the Repub- 
lican party into factions which resulted in giving the Democrats both 
House and Senate, and elected Woodrow Wilson President. 

Under the rules and custom of the House, the Speaker wielded an 
almost arbitrary power. He appointed all committees, was himself 
ex-officio a member of the Committee on Rules, and during debates 
could recognize only such members as he pleased. Through these means 
he was almost a dictator as to legislation. This condition had existed 
from the very first Congress, and was growing more and more intoler- 
able. The Democrats were in the minority in the House, but a number 
of Republicans were fretting under the operation of these rules. Mr. 
Clark was a far-seeing politician, and saw that if he could bring about 
a revision of the rules by the aid of the "insurgent" Republicans, it 
would eventuate in a decisive split in that party, and one so decisive 
as to open the way for Democratic success at the polls. 

To bring about that coalition with the "insurgents," he addressed 
himself with all the tact he possessed. The fight was a long and hard 
one. He had difficulty at times to keep his own party up to the work, 
and the "insurgents" were not always at hand with their votes. He 
kept it up, in season and out of season, always looking at the larger 
result to be won. After days and nights of parliamentary wrangling 
he secured enough votes among the "insurgent" Republicans to make 
sure his success. The battle was over; the rules were changed, the 
Speaker shorn of his power; the Republican party was hopelessly 
divided. The insurgents, as they were caJled by the Regulars, the 
Progressives, as they called themselves, bolted the Republican national 
ticket named at Chicago and Taft was defeated, and both House and 
Senate fell into the hands of the Democrats. 

It was a great parliamentary fight, one of the greatest in our his- 
tory. The story in full of how it was conducted is worthy of repeat- 
ing* It is nowhere better told than by Mr. Clark himself in his charm- 
ing book. An agreement had been reached with thirty of the insur- 
gent Republicans to vote with the Democrats on a proposed change of 
the rules taking away much of the power of the Speaker, and regu- 
lating in a more specific way the order of business. When this agree- 
ment was reached Mr. Clark, with the aid of Mr. Underwood, set about 
the task of inducing the one hundred and seventy Democrats to sup- 
port the reform resolutions. The opening skirmish took place at the 
opening of the special session in 1909. The "reformers" met With a 


temporary defeat, twenty-six Republicans voting for the reform, but 
twenty-three Democrats went over to the old order of things. Of this 
defeat Mr. Clark says : 

The next morning after our defeat all the papers announced, in great, black, 
flaring headlines, that the rules fight was over, and most of them congratulated 
Mr. Speaker Cannon and his "Regular Republicans" upon their crushing victory. 
They condemned the insurgent Republicans without mercy, and jeered at the 
Democrats with ghoulish glee. Henceforth, so they declared, the demoralized and 
beaten Democrats would be a negligible quantity, and that "Uncle Joe," like 
Alexander Selkirk on his desert island, was "monarch of all he surveyed," "His 
right there was none to dispute/' 

I will never forget how those headlines looked; but the jubilators reckoned 
without their host, never dreaming that in precisely one year and four days the 
men so thoroughly licked March 15, 1909, would achieve a triumph so sweeping- 
that it would not only work a revolution in the rules of the House, but would work 
a political revolution throughout the land, the first fruits of which would be a 
Democratic majority in the House of the Sixty-second Congress, which would rend 
the Republican party in twain and give the Democrats the President, the House, 
and the Senate March 4, 1913. 

It cannot be stated too often that our successful rules fight placed the Demo- 
crats in power not only in the House, but in the nation. 

The next day, after we were trounced, the "Allies" went about their business 
as though nothing untoward had happened, pursuing th even tenor of their way, 
waiting patiently for an opportunity to renew the conflict. It was slow in com- 
ing, but it came at last, and in a most unexpected manner. 

From the 15th day of March, 1909, to the 7th day of January, 1910, we worked 
along, trying, whenever there seemed to be any chance, to break through the 
Republican lines; but they were wary and constantly on guard. 

Finally Representative Norris presented a resolution which he 
claimed was made privileged by the Constitution. The resolution pro- 
vided a change in the rules depriving the Speaker of his power to name 
committees. A point of order was raised that the resolution was not 
privileged. Now again Mr. Clark : 

The real purpose was to overthrow and uproot "Cannonism." We all realised 
the decisive battle was on, none more thoroughly so than Mr. Speaker Cannon, 
who, fearing that he did not have a majority at his back in the House at that 
particular time, declined to rule, and carried on a filibuster from the chair for 
three wearisome days and two more wearisome nights. 

I take it for granted that that was the only occasion in the entire history of the 
House when the Speaker led a filibuster. He was waiting for reinforcements 
enough to outvote us, for everybody knew two things; First, that when he did 
rule he would sustain the point of order, thereby holding the Norris resolution not 
to be privileged; second, that we would appeal from his decision. He could not be 
forced to rule. He was deferring to get a majority. We were holding on grimly 
to our majority. He wouldn't rule. We would not let the House adjourn 

When the debate closed Mr, Speaker Cannon, in a written opinion, sustained 
the point of order, holding the Norris resolution to be not privileged, and, there* 
fore, not in order. I promptly appealed from his decision, and just as promptly 
Mr. Dalzell moved to table my appeal. The roll was called amid breathless, almost 
painful, silence. We triumphed by a large majority, every Democrat toeing the 
mark and thirty-odd insurgent ^Republicans voting with us. ... 


That contest is the finest example in our annals of debate under the five-minute 
rule, and of our superb capacity for self -government. For three days and nights 
the battle raged with utmost fury, yet not one word of unparliamentary language 
was used, except that General Hollingsworth, of Ohio, was wroth because, under 
a call of the House, a deputy sergeant-at-arms routed him out of a nice downy 
bed and brought him to the bar of the House in the wee small hours of the morn- 
ing, when and where he expressed a sulphurous and elaborate opinion of all con- 
cerned, very much to the amusement of the other weary and sleepy members. 

It must, in ordinary justice, be written down here that Mr. Speaker Cannon, 
throughout the bitter contest, bore himself with the utmost dignity and decorum, 
never appearing to better advantage in his life. 

Technically speaking, under the rules of the House he ruled correctly on the 
Norris resolution. The Democrats and insurgents never claimed the contrary, but 
we boldly and candidly asserted that what we were doing was a revolution in 
parliamentary procedure for the good of the House and the country. The only 
way we could accomplish it was to overrule the Speaker which we did. 

It is enough to say that when the Republicans again obtained the 
power of the House, they made no attempt to revert to the old order, 
but acted under the rules as changed by the Norris resolution. They 
are now regarded as the permanent rules. His skillful management of 
this parliamentary fight made Mr. Clark stronger than ever with his 
party, and his leadership was never questioned. The Republican Reg- 
ulars made bitter fight against .those of their party who voted for the 
Norris resolution, denouncing them in such wrathful terms as to drive 
them permanently In opposition. This bitterness brought about the 
bolt from the Eepublican convention in 1912, the organization of the 
"Progressive party/' the nomination of Mr. Roosevelt against Taft, 
resulting in the victory of the Democrats and the election of Woodrow 
Wilson as President. Mr, Clark always claimed he saw the future 
political result if the insurgent Republicans could be held to the work 
of overthrowing what was called "Cannonism," and it was that belief 
in the future political results which made him so ardently in favor of 
changing th rules. 

So strong had he become with his party that it was readily acknowl- 
edged he would be elected Speaker if the Democrats obtained power in 
the House. His time came, and he was elected Speaker at the special 
session of the Sixty-second Congress in April, 1911, and was reelected 
at the Sixty-third, Sixty-fourth and Sixty-fifth Congresses. It was 
his boast that he was "the only Democrat living or dead ever unani- 
mously nominated by a Democratic caucus for his first term in the 
Speakership." On taking the chair on the 4th of April, 1911, Mr. 
Clark departed very materially from the long-established custom of 
speechmaking. The custom had been to confine the remarks of a 
newly-elected Speaker to giving thanks for the honor and to promises 
of fairness and impartiality. This formal method did not suit Mr. 
Clark, and he spoke at some length, mapping out what his party ought 
to do, and what it intended to do. He said : 


My Democratic brethren, coupled with the joy of once more seeing a House, a 
large majority of which is of my own political faith, is a keen sense of our re- 
sponsibility to our country and our kind. It is an old adage worthy of acceptation 
that where much is given much is required. 

After sixteen years of exclusion from power in the House and fourteen years 
of exclusion from power in every department of government, we are restored to 
power in the House of Representatives, and in that alone. We are this day put 
upon trial, and the duty devolves upon us to demonstrate not so much by fine 
phrases as by good works that we are worthy of the confidence reposed in us by 
the voters of the land, and that we, are worthy of their wider confidence. 

We could not if we would, and we would not if we could, escape this severe test. 
We will not shirk our duty. We shrink not from the responsibility. That we will 
prove equal to the emergency in which we find ourselves placed through our own 
efforts and through our own desires there can be no doubt, and the way to accom- 
plish this is to fulfil with courage, intelligence, and patriotism the promises made 
before the election in order to win the election, 

By discharging our duty thoroughly and well, subordinating personal desires 
to principle and personal ambition to an exalted love of country, we will not only 
receive the endorsement of the people, but, what is far better, we will deserve 
their endorsement. Chief among these promises were: 

1. An honest, intelligent revision of the tariff downward in order to give 
every American citizen an equal chance in the race of life, and to pamper none 
unduly by special favor or privilege; to reduce the cost of living by eradicating 
the enormities and cruelties of the present tariff bill, and to raise the necessary 
revenue to support the Government. 

2. The passage of a resolution submitting to the States for ratification a con- 
stitutional amendment providing for the election of United States Senators by the 
popular vote. 

3. Such changes in the rules of the House as are necessary for the thorough 
and intelligent consideration of measures for the public good, several of which 
changes are accomplished facts. If other changes are deemed wise, they will be* 
promptly made. 

I congratulate the House and the country, and particularly do I congratulate 
the members of the Committee on Ways and Means, upon the success of the im- 
portant and far-reaching experiment of selecting committees through the instru- 
mentality of a committee, an experiment touching which dire predictions were 
made and concerning the operation of which grave doubts were entertained, even 
by some honest reformers. 

4. Economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened. The 
literal fulfilment of that promise which so nearly affects the comfort and happi- 
ness of millions we have begun and we began at the proper place- by cutting 
down the running expenses of the House by more than $188,000 per annum. Econ- 
omy, Hke charity, should begin at home. That's where we began. We cannot, 
with straight faces and clear consciences, reform expenses elsewhere unless we 
reform them here at the f ountainhead. 

5. The publication of campaign contributions and disbursements before the 

6. The admission of both Arizona and New Mexico as States* I violate tto 
confidence in stating that, so far as the House is concerned, they will be speedily 
admitted together. 

These are a few of the things which we promised. We are not only going to 
fulfil them; we have already begun the great task. What we have clone is only 
an earnest of what we will do. We this day report progress to the American 
people. The rest will follow. 


No man is fit to be a lawgiver for a great people who yields to the demands 
and solicitations of the few having access to his ear, but is forgetful of that vast 
multitude who may never hear his voice or look into his face. 

I suggest to my fellow-members on both sides of the Big Aisle which is the 
line of demarcation betwixt us as political partisans, but not as American citizens 
or American representatives that he serves his party best who serves Ms country 
best. Prom Har^yer's Encyclopaedia of United States History, Vol. II. 

In his years in Congress, and of practical leadership of his party in 
the House, Mr. Clark had added largely to his popularity with his 
party at large and with the people. Even before he was elected Speaker 
his name was frequently mentioned when Democratic nominations for 
the presidency was the topic of conversation. By 1912 he was the 
best-known man in the country of presidential size in his party, and 
his friends felt that he would be elevated to that high office. At the 
primaries he swept everything before him, and he felt sure the great 
pme was in his grasp. 

Among the States giving its vote to Clark in the primaries was 
Nebraska. Under the rule, Clark having received the majority, it 
acted as an instruction to the delegates from that State to the conven- 
tion to vote for Mr. Clark. When the convention met in Baltimore, 
several names were presented and voted for. Mr. Clark led on every 
ballot, and for eight or nine ballots had a majority over all the others. 
This in a convention of any other party would have given the nomina- 
tion to him, but under the Democratic rule it required two-thirds to 

When Mr. Clark's vote reached a majority, Colonel Bryan, a dele- 
gate from Nebraska, and under the instructions of the Democratic 
voters of his State to vote for Mr. Clark, rose in the convention and, 
after a speech of some length, declared his intention to violate the 
instructions of his State and cast his vote for Mr. Wilson. He gave as 
his excuse for this change a statement that Mr. Clark was receiving 
the vote of New York, and that the delegates from that State were 
under the domination of Tammany, and he could not vote for any man 
favored by the Tammany organization. 

It was generally believed by the delegates that the real object of 
the change was to bring about a deadlock in the convention, in the 
hope they would then turn and give him the nomination. Whatever 
was his real object, the convention eventually nominated Mr. Wilson. 
Mr. Clark issued a statement to the public as follows : 

Today, in the National Convention, an outrageous aspersion was cast upon me, 
and through me upon the Democratic party, by one who of all men ought to be the 
last to besmirch or betray his friend or Ms party. 

So far as I am personally concerned, it is enough to say that the charge which 
reflects upon my personal or party integrity is utterly and absolutely false. 

I might afford to forget myself, but I am, by the choice of the Democratic 
majority of the House of Representatives, the ranking official Democrat in national 
public life. 


I cannot be false or corrupt without reflecting upon my party in the most seri- 
ous way. 

' Any man who would enter into an alliance with any selfish interests or priv- 
ileged class of this country to gain the nomination for the presidency is unworthy 
of the presidency and of the speakership of the House. 

If I have not entered into such an alliance, then the Democrat, however dis- 
tinguished, who wantonly charges me with this act, is traitor to> the Democratic 
party and to Ms professed friendship for me, 

I am not here to plead for a nomination or to attempt to influence any man's 
political action. 

Let every man proceed in this convention according to his convictions and the 
expressed will of his constituents. 

I ask no undue consideration from any man, be he friend or foe, but I demand 
exact justice from every Democrat, either in this convention or throughout the 

With William Jennings Bryan and his charge, made in the convention today, 
the issue is proof or retraction. I shall expect him to meet the issue. 

Mr. Bryan did not furnish the proof, nor did he retract. Of his 
attitude Mr. Clark, in his book, says: "Did Bryan furnish proof of his 
false and wicked insinuations? He did not. Did he retract? He did 
not. An honest, courageous man would have done one or the other- 
Yet he prowls around, posing as a Christian statesman at so much per 
pose." The book of Mr. Clark was published during the lifetime of 
Mr. Bryan, with this severe denunciation, but it brought no response 
from the Colonel 

Mr. Clark's first term as Speaker of the House was in the last Con- 
gress in the administration of President Taft. It was a stormy ses- 
sion, yet Mr. Clark held the members with a tight rein. As he ex- 
pressed it himself, he did not intend there should be any riotous 
scenes, and always stopped the angry debaters when they approached 
the danger line. So strict and firm was his attitude that no member 
went beyond the line of decorum. He won the admiration and friend- 
ship of those who were politically opposed to him* 

He was elected to the same exalted position in the Sixty-third, Sixty- 
fourth, and Sixty-fifth Congresses. The Republicans held a majority 
in the Sixty-sixth Congress, and, as a matter of course, one of their 
party was placed in the chair. He served eight years. The World War 
was fought while he was guiding the House of Representatives. He 
steadfastly and loyally supported the administration* He failed to 
reach the high point of his ambition, the presidency, but never lost the 
love of his party. They recognized in him the lofty ideals of Democ- 
racy, without demagogueism. He died just as the Sixty-sixth Con- 
gress was closing its official term. His death came like a shock to Ms 
colleagues in the House and to the country at large. As he felt the 
last moment coming he roused himself to send word to his colleagues 
that the House should not adjourn, as was its custom when one of its 
members died. Only a day or two remained of the session, and Mr, 


Clark knew how those days would be crowded with business, and his 
thoughts were for the public. No more fitting ending of this short 
sketch of Mr. Clark can be found than to quote some of the expres- 
sions of his colleagues : 

Mr. Dickinson, of Missouri: He was the minority leader of his party 
in this House. He was eight years Speaker of this great representa- 
tive body. His worthy record as Speaker endeared him to the entire 
membership of the House, and no man ever served in this House more 
loved than this big-hearted, red-blooded Missourian. . . . He was a 
great figure in national politics, a stalwart in his own party. Not a 
mere politician, he was a statesman of high order. He loved his coun- 
try, his State, his home, his friends. He was a man of rugged honesty 
and fearless courage, with a heart as tender as a child's. He was just, 
he was considerate; he loved the right and hated wrong. He made a 
good fight in the great battle of life. He loved this House it was a 
home to him. His history is mingled with the strong characters with 
whom he served and battled in earnest debate. His friendships knew 
no party lines. . . , The name of Champ Clark will rank high with the 
best and strongest of our great men and live as long as history lives. 

Mr. Gillette, of Massachusetts: I remember him as an intellectual 
gladiator in this House, of splendid physique, fine presence, strong 
voice, handsome and impressive head, good elocution, and back of that 
was an intellect, keen and vigorous, stored with the very kind of 
knowledge most useful in this House. ... I have served here under 
five Speakers Crisp, Reed, Henderson, Cannon, Clark all men of 
great ability, men of striking qualities, for all of whom I have great 
admiration and regard. Yet above them all it seems to me, in an im- 
partial construction of the rules, in the power of setting aside parti- 
sanship and standing forth as the judge, Mr. Clark was pre-eminent. 
He won the admiration, affection, and confidence of both sides of the 

Mr. Cannon, of Illinois: The succession of events tells the story. 
Speaker Clark was not an accident. He developed along the lines of 
American ideals and American opportunities met with responsibility 
a splendid type of American statesmanship. 

Mr. Johnson, of Kentucky: Not that sort of eloquence that he in 
his homely Lincoln-like way would have called "highfalutnf stuff"; 
not that sort that undertakes to inflame a rabble; not that sort that 
endeavors to lull into dangerous inactivity did he ever employ; but, 
instead, he used that sort of speech that Heaven approves and ^ to 
which men respond* By that unpretentious but effective way which 
was his alone I have witnessed big men, entertaining opposite views, 
yield to the power of his mind and his unique expression of thought. 

Mr. Mann, of Illinois : I loved the man. We were on opposite sides 
of the House. We never had extra-close personal relations, but in all 


the touch and contests of bitter fights we learned not merely to respect 
each other, but to love as two brothers might. This House saw him 
In the days of great parliamentary contests, and no one ever appeared 
on this floor in a parliamentary fight who was his superior. . . . He 
left the Speaker's chair with the respect, the admiration, and the 
affectionate regard of every member of the House, regardless of party. 

Mr. Mondell, of Wyoming: Mr, Speaker; Champ Clark was an ideal 
example of American citizenship, of American statesmanship. He 
exemplified to the fullest in his life and character the personal and 
civic virtues which we are pleased to believe reach their most perfect 
development under the conditions of American life. He not only meas- 
ured up to the highest and best standards of American ideals, but his 
virtues were peculiarly American in their manifestation and expres- 
sion. . . . His friends embraced men of every shade and variety of 
opinion, for to know "him well was to be his friend. However much 
one might differ with him, his splendid human qualities compelled 

Mr. Rodenberg, of Illinois: Champ Clark was great in the best and 
truest meaning of the word great in character, great in ability, great 
in his conception of public duty, great in his devotion to the public 
service, and great in his abiding love for humanity. Intellectually 
honest, always candid, sincere, and straightforward, he abhorred hy- 
pocrisy in all its forms. . , . Throughout Ms long, eventful, and distin- 
guished public career he followed the path of duty outlined clearly and 
unmistakably by a conscience that was responsive always to the 
noblest impulses of true manhood. That was his crowning character- 


T^KEDERICK HUNTINGTON GILLETTE Speaker of the House of Repre- 
-L sentatives in the Sixty-sixth, Sixty-seventh, and Sixty-eighth Con- 
gresses. Born at Westfield, Massachusetts, October 16, 1851. Son of 
Edward Bates and Lucy Douglas (Fowler) Gillette. Educated at Am- 
herst College. Married, November 25, 1916, Mrs. Charlotte Eice Hoar. 

From 1855, when Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massachusetts, presided as 
Speaker over a riotous, tumultuous House, when revolvers and Bowie 
knives were in almost daily evidence, and obprobious epithets made 
sulphurous the atmosphere in the Chamber, to 1919, when Frederick 
H. Gillette, another son of the Old Bay State, took charge of the Speak- 
er's gavel over a House as decorous, peaceful, and kindly as a men's 
Bible class in a modern Sunday school, a period of sixty-four years had 

They were memorable years, filled with history, A great civil war 
had been fought to a finish, establishing the Union on a firmer and 
more enduring foundation than before. From thirty-three semi-inde- 


pendent principalities we had been wrought into a nation with a big 
N. With one hand we had reached out toward the frozen Arctic and 
gathered in Alaska with its wonderful natural resources. With the 
other we reached out to the mid-Pacific and raised the Stars and 
Stripes over Honolulu, and then reaching a little further placed that 
banner over the Philippines, right on the border of Asia. From a 
population of fifty million we had increased to more than a hundred 
million. We had grown so strong and arrogant in our strength that 
we threw away our old traditions against entangling alliances, and 
sent three million of our boys over the seas to fight the battles of 

During those threescore years the nation had been called to mourn 
the death of three Presidents slain by the hand of the assassin. First 
was the immortal, great-hearted, generous, forgiving Lincoln. Then 
came the gallant, eloquent and kindly Garfield, Followed the genial, 
lovable McKinley. We mourned for them when they fell ; we mourn 
for them yet, 

There were wonderful victories in science in those threescore years. 
Electric lights, the phonograph, the application of electricity as a 
power ; wireless telegraphy, the radio, submarine, and airplanes, and 
the Panama Canal 

When Mr. Banks was Speaker the House consisted of two hundred 
and thirty-seven members. Under Speaker Gillette there were four 
hundred and thirty-five. When Mr. Banks was Speaker the country 
was throbbing under the approaches of a great civil war. When Mr. 
Gillette assumed that high office the country was just emerging from 
a war that shook the world. It was the last Congress under the ad- 
ministration of President Wilson. The one great subject under con- 
sideration by Congress and by the people was the treaty of peace ne- 
gotiated at Vincennes. The House was divided in opinion on the sub- 
ject, but all rejoiced that the war was over. 

Mr. Gillette entered the House in the Fifty-third Congress, and was 
reelected to each succeeding Congress to and including the Sixty- 
eighth, serving a period of thirty-two years. In six of those years he 
was Speaker. 

Having graduated from the Harvard Law School, he was admitted 
to practice in 1877. He began the practice in Springfield, and rapidly 
advanced. He was an ardent Republican and took active interest in 
political affairs. He possessed by nature, or early acquired, the art of 
pleasing. His smile was bright and his greetings cordial. Those quali- 
ties, combined with his high talents, made him popular with the peo- 
ple. In 1879 he was made Assistant Attorney General of Massa- 
chusetts* This broadened his activities and widened his acquaintance 
in the State. 


He served one term in the Massachusetts Legislature and was then 
sent to Congress. At first he was not a favorite with the newspaper 
men, as he was not given to granting interviews. He was modest, and 
made his way by slow steps, advancing in the regard of his colleagues 
steadily. His worth being manifested, he was given commanding com- 
mittee assignments, and served long on the great Committee on Appro- 
priations. As a member of that committee during the World War he 
was of great assistance to President Wilson. 

He was not given to frequent speech-making, and rarely spoke at 
great length. As the years passed along he became one of the leaders 
of his party in the House, until he was advanced to the position of 
Floor Leader, and from that to the Speaker's desk. At the time of 
his election as Speaker he was the oldest member of the House in con- 
tinuous service. 

While Speaker he was elected a member of the Senate and took his 
seat in that body on the assembling of the Sixty-ninth Congress. The 
principle question then before Congress was the entry of the United 
States into the World Court. On that question Senator Gillette made 
his first speech in that body. An extract or two will show the calm, 
argumentative style of the Senator. Among other things he said : 

Why was it that the United States did not join the League of Nations ? It was 
because we did not wish to become entangled with the political disputes of Europe, 
and we did not wish to give up any right to independent action, Are thorn two 
motives in the slightest affected by joining with other nations in voting for Judflcw 
of a court, Tby paying part of the expenses of the court, and by submitting to that 
court whatever disputes we wish, and absolutely no others? It seems to me 
preposterous to claim that that was an assumption of obligation on the part of the 
United States. 

Of course, this court does come from the league and is favored by the league. 
To me that is a matter of entire indifference, I appreciate that in the case of som 
Senators who were here during the very heated debates upon the league, there IB 
left some personal and political feelings, which are not easy to forget* and which 
probably have not yet died out. I have no such feelings, however. While I do not 
want the United States to joint the league, I have the kindliest feelings toward it* 
I regret its failures; T rejoice in its successes. I hope the league will prove, m 
seems likely, a beneficent factor in the political aifairs of Europe and may smooth 
out international difficulties and act as a clearing house for minor complications 
until it has won prestige and power sufficient to grapple with the big problems. I 
hope it may achieve even more successfully for Europe the good will and coopera- 
tion that the Pan-American Union is bringing to this hemisphere, I hope we shall 
cooperate with its good work. Indeed, 1 hope international cooperation will Htead- 
ily increase, for with nations, as with men, acquaintance and cooperation is apt to 
lead to friendliness and good will. 

I do not think the World Court was created by the League of Nations. It twomH 
to me the World Court technically was created not by the league, but by the 
statute; but that again to me is a matter of indifference. I do not care HO much 
for its origin as for its effect. I am not so much interested in its pedigree as in 
its progeny; and if it will accomplish the results that 1 wish, then it matters little 
to me whether it is of American or of league origin, although it gratifies ray na- 
tional pride to know that America has long and steadfastly urged thiu vary proj- 

FREDERICK H. GILLKTT, Massachusetts 

Sixty-sixth, Sixty-seventh and Sixty-eighth Congresses 


ect; and it gratifies my personal feelings and increases my confidence in the 
court to know that one of the most influential agents in the formation of the 
procedure of the court was that wise, far-sighted statesman, Blihu Boot, to whom 
today is as applicable as to any living man the epigram of Mackintosh 

"A name that would add authority to truth and furnish some excuse 
even to error." 

It is not surprising that Mr. Root has been quoted during this debate by, men on 
both sides. Criticisms he made of the court have been cited. I do not suppose 
anybody in all the fifty nations that compromised on this court was entirely sat- 
isfied with it. I do not suppose there was a statesman who did not feel some criti- 
cism of it. But I want to remind you that, despite Mr. Boot's strictures, which 
have been read, yet he believed that the benefits of this court were vastly greater 
than its defects, and he is heartily and earnestly in favor of the adherence of the 
United States to the protocol* 


I fear that on both sides of this general question there has been much exag- 
geration* I do not refer to Senators particularly, but in the debate that has been 
going on in the last three years throughout the country I fear that those who are 
in favor of the World Court have exaggerated the benefits that are to come from 
our entrance, and I fear that those who have opposed the World Court have exag- 
gerated the dangers. 

We are not going far toward world peace, which is the goal at which we are 
all aiming, by simply giving our adherence to a court which can only try cases 
which the parties agree to submit to it. It is obviously but a first step, and but 
a short step. To be sure, there is in the statute that optional provision allowing 
nations to agree to compulsory jurisdiction, but it is rather pathetic to note who 
the nations are that have made this agreement that all their disputes shall be sub- 
mitted to the court. It is only the weak, the small nations, those which can not 
defend themselves. It is the fragile china vessels which want a court. The iron 
pots are not afraid of a collision* The defenseless nations, which have not armed 
protection against an aggressive neighbor, agree to submit all their disputes to 
the jurisdiction of the court, but the great powers, confident in their strength, 
prefer to reserve to themselves the arbitrament of force. It reminds me of the 

Laws, we ^.re told by ancient sages, 
Have been like cobwebs in all ages. 
Cobwebs for little flies are spread, 
And laws for little folks are made. 

But if an insect of renown, 
Hornet or beetle, wasp or drone, 
Be caught in quest of sport or plunder, 
The flimsy fetter flies in sunder. 



NICHOLAS LONGWORTH Speaker of the House of Representatives 
IB the Sixty-ninth and Seventieth Congresses. Born in Cincinnati, 
Ohio, November 5, 1869. Son of Nicholas and Susan (Walker) Long- 
worth. Educated at Harvard University. Married, February 17, 1906, 
Miss Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Eoosevelt. 

Nicholas Longworth came from one of the oldest and most distin- 
guished families of Cincinnati. His grandfather was long one of the 
leading business men of that city, known as the Queen City. Deeply 
engaged in business affairs the Longworths always took great interest 
In political matters, especially in those dealing with local questions. 

The Speaker received his early education at the famous Franklin 
School in Cincinnati. Later he went to Harvard, and from that insti- 
tution was graduated in 1891. Taking the law as his life profession 
he attended the Harvard Law School one year, and then transferred 
to the Cincinnati Law School. In school, and at college young Long- 
worth was regarded as a diligent student, but not as one of more than 
ordinary brilliancy. He gave little promise then of achieving the high 
distinction he won in a very few years after beginning his active life- 
He was not poor and it was not necessary for him to strive for success 
at the bar, yet he earned a reputation as an able lawyer, 

He gave much of his time to politics, soon reaching a prominent posi- 
tion in the Republican party, the party of his choice* His first office 
was as a member of the Cincinnati School Board. This was quickly 
followed by his election as a member of the Ohio House of Eepreaenta- 
tives. There he was in his element and was recognized as a leader* In 
1901 he was sent to the Ohio Senate. He was "a vote-getter/' and Ms 
ability in that direction led his party in 1902 to nominate him for Con- 
gress. He was elected to the Fifty-eighth Congress, and with the ex- 
ception of one term has been constantly reelected to each succeeding 
Congress. The one exception was in 1912, when the Republican party 
was torn to pieces by the contest between former President Roosevelt 
and President Taft 

In that historic campaign Mr. Roosevelt led what was called the 
"Progressive" wing of the Republicans, the campaign ending in the 
election of Woodrow Wilson. Mr. Longworth did not follow his dis- 
tinguished father-in-law, but held fast to the old party. The pro- 
gressives ran a candidate for Congress in Longworth's district, divid- 
ing the Republican vote, letting a Democrat carry off the honors. Two 
years later Mr. Longworth was again a candidate, easily winning the 

In the House he quickly made a place for himself among the leaders 
of his party always sure, always reliable. He made a study of par- 
liamentary law, and of the rules and usages of the House, thus pre* 

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